Thousands of police officers from New York and New Jersey gathered at a small Long Island church Monday to honor a New York Police Department patrolman shot to death during a botched robbery in Brooklyn.
Officer Peter Figoski was remembered as a dedicated worker — a 22-year veteran with 12 medals and more than 200 arrests — and loving father of four daughters: Carolyn, 16, and Corrine, 14, both in high school, and Christine, 20, and Caitlyn, 18, who are in college upstate.
"Christine, Caitlyn, Caroline, Corrine, as the father of daughters, I understand the bonds you share with your dad," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said during the service. "How much you must miss him. Your father died a hero."
The 47-year-old was posthumously promoted to detective, first-class.
"Knowing your father was a hero, however, doesn't make it any easier these days," Bloomberg said. "Knowing your dad was revered in the NYPD doesn't make his passing less painful."
The casket holding Figoski's body was led into the small Roman Catholic church in Babylon by a processional of bag pipes and drums playing "Amazing Grace." His daughters trailed behind.
Uniformed officers from the NYPD, Suffolk, and Nassau departments, state police from New York and New Jersey, and officer from upstate New York communities lined up to pay respect. It was so crowded that some officers stood on the nearby Long Island Railroad platform.
Figoski was working midnights in the 75th Precinct in the East New York neighborhood and was responding to a report of break-in at a Brooklyn apartment Dec. 15.
He was shot once in the face and died hours later at a hospital.
Lamont Pride and four others are accused of trying to rob a marijuana dealer in the basement apartment. When they allegedly smashed in the door and began beating the dealer, the upstairs owner of the home called 911.
Figoski and his partner were providing backup to two officers questioning the victim and two suspects in the apartment when Pride and another man tried to flee, police said. During a struggle between the officer's partner and one of the suspects, Figoski came face-to-face with Pride, who police said shot him with a semiautomatic handgun before Figoski could draw his own weapon.
His partner pursued Pride on foot and captured him several blocks away, police said.
Pride is charged with first-degree murder. The other four are charged with second-degree murder.
Prosecutor Kenneth Taub said the five — all jailed without bail — had plotted to "commit a home invasion of a small-time marijuana dealer." He called Pride the "muscle of the organization" and said the defendant "made a choice to end the officer's life rather than be arrested."
Pride was already wanted in a non-fatal shooting in North Carolina but remained on the streets because arrest warrants didn't require his return there, NYPD officials said.
He had been arrested twice in recent months in New York for weapons and drug possession. Each time, he was released after police found they had no grounds to hold him under the North Carolina warrants, Kelly said.
Pride also served a short prison term in North Carolina for robbery.