NYPD Officer Peter Figoski
NYPD Officer Peter Figoski

Two days after a North Carolina man was convicted in the slaying of a New York City police officer from West Babylon, a separate jury acquitted the man accused of driving the getaway car.

Michael Velez was found not guilty on burglary and murder charges Wednesday in the death of 47-year-old NYPD Officer Peter Figoski, who was fatally shot in the face in December 2011 while investigating a burglary in Brooklyn.

In his testimony, Velez told the court that he thought he was just giving the four other suspects a ride.

NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly was critical of the verdict.

“When juries fail to comprehend the monstrous scale of a police officer’s murder, they fail society itself,” said Kelly in a statement. “God help us if other gunmen and  their getaway drivers take comfort in these verdicts because when a police officer is murdered society at-large is struck a mortal blow. It’s shameful that the family of Peter Figoski must be crushed again by another incomprehensible verdict.”

The New York City Police Benevolent Association was also clearly disappointed.

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“This jury did not exhibit an ounce of the courage that Peter Figoski showed time and time again during his life as a police officer,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement. “This is a devastating verdict for all police officers and for the Figoski family. We are deeply disappointed that the jury completely disregarded the role that the defendant played in the death of a brave police officer.”

“While Peter’s tragic death brought our city together,” he continued, “today, this jury let the entire city down.”

Another jury Monday convicted the gunman, 28-year-old Lamont Pride, for Figoski’s murder. He was found guilty of second-degree murder, burglary and manslaughter. Prosecutors were not able to convince jurors to convict Pride on the top charge of first-degree murder.

Figoski’s partner chased down and arrested Pride after he shot and killed the decorated cop and father of four.

Two other suspects, 28-year-old Nelson Morales and 31-year-old Kevin Santos, have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial. Meanwhile, a fifth suspect, 23-year-old Ariel Tejada, pleaded guilty and will testify against the two men in exchange for a lighter sentence.


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