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A Hero Lost, But Not Forgotten . . .

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$770, and a cheap wristwatch have deprived Peter Figoski’s four daughters from being with him on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

The decorated police officer, and devoted father wanted nothing more than to celebrate the coming new year with his daughters. A dream that will go unrealized, and unfilled, largely in part because of the actions of five individuals, and their bungled attempt to rob a marijuana dealer.

Figoski and his partner Glenn Estrada were backing up two other officers responding to a 2 a.m. robbery call at a home located on Pine St., in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. As the first arriving officers were questioning the pistol-whipped drug dealer, and the two suspects, who had duped them into thinking that they were neighbors trying to help; Lamont Pride, 27, and Kevin Santos, 30, hid in a storage room at the front of the basement.

The officers however became suspicious as Nelson Morales, 27, the purported ringleader and nephew of the landlord, and Ariel Tejada, 22, gave very descriptive details about the weapons used in the assault.

As the officers continued to question the trio, Pride and Santos attempted to flee and ran into in Figoski and Estrada. A deadly scuffle ensued, resulting in Pride shooting Officer Figoski in the face.

Officer Estrada hearing the shot broke off his skirmish with Santos, and chased Pride for two blocks, finally subduing and restraining him with Figoski’s handcuffs. Estrada must be commended for showing extraordinary restraint since it would have been easy to exact vengeance for his wounded partner.

Figoski was taken to Jamaica Medical Center, but died shortly thereafter at 7:17 a.m.

A fifth suspect, Michael Velez, 21, perhaps trying to plant the seeds for his own defense, claimed ignorance in the botched burglary attempt. In a jailhouse interview, Velez, stated he was only doing a favor for a friend, and was surprised and shocked when Pride brandished the 9-mm. Ruger.

He further expressed remorse for slain Officer Figoski, and his family. A somewhat dubious sentiment when Velez, for all intents and purposes was in a position to stop the subsequent events by flagging down a police officer or calling 911 as the other four perpetrators proceeded with the home invasion.

What Velez, did however when the Gold Nissan Maxima he occupied  was blocked by an arriving squad car, slipped unseen from the vehicle and walked casually to a nearby bar. He then phoned for a livery cab and asked to be driven to Queens. Police used surveillance video and tracked down Velez, who was found hiding out at his cousin’s house.

Figoski’s daughters: Christine, 20; Caitlyn, 18; Caroline, 16; Corinne, 14; whom he hoped to shield from the depraved world he worked in, can take solace in the fact their father’s killers were caught and will be brought to justice.

A very small consolation for a death that perhaps could have been avoided if, Judge Evelyn Laporte, had not denied a bail request of $2,500 for Lamont Pride, on an earlier drug bust.

Ironically, the gun that killed Detective Figoski (awarded posthumously) was purchased from Dance’s Sporting Goods, in Colonial Heights, Virginia. 21-years-ago, a stray bullet from a gun purchased from the same store, struck and killed 9-month-old Rayvon Jamison while in his walker.

Overwhelming public support and outpouring affection will enable Figoski’s dream that all of his daughters get  a college education, to reach fruition, through the Peter Figoski’s Scholarship Fund, which has amassed $662,000 to date.

A throng of 20,000 misty-eyed officers, relatives, and friends on 12/19/2011 came to pay their respects for a fallen hero.

In a touching a moment, Figoski’s youngest daughters rested their hands on their father’s casket one last time.

Perhaps summoning strength from their father, who was being hailed and saluted as a hero, and wanting nothing more than to trade the accolades for the chance to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with him again.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author


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