NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – One of five men accused in a botched robbery where a New York City police officer was killed is testifying against the others.
Ariel Tejada said Tuesday he started robbing people at age 16. The 23-year-old has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in return for an 18-year prison sentence.
Prosecutors said Lamont Pride ambushed Figoski and shot him point-blank in the head while the officer and his partner were responding to a burglary call in Brooklyn.
During testimony, Tejada described going with Pride and three others to rob the drug dealer that his friend Nelson knew.
Tejada said he and Nelson had committed previous drug dealer robberies in the past, including getting $34,000 in one hit alone.
Tejada continued his testimony, saying the group pulled up to 25 Pine Street and that Pride was sitting next to him in the back seat of the car. He said pride “racked” his gun — meaning that it was ready to be fired — before they went inside.
Once inside of the location, two of Tejada’s friends hit a man who lived at the location and demanded money and drugs. That man was lying on the floor, bleeding and Tejada said he also punched him in the face demanding the cash.
At that point, the suspects’ driver warned them that police were coming. Two police officers came in to the location with their guns drawn, Tejada said in his testimony. Tejada said he and his friend Nelson pretended they were victims. He also testified that he knew Pride and another suspect had run to the front of the basement apartment, toward the boiler room, but didn’t know where they were.
Tejada said that two police officers who came in helped him, thinking he was a victim too. Then, Tejada testified he heard a big “thump” like something fell. At that point, the officers ran outside and he heard on one of the radios, “officer down.”
Tejada testified he was taken to the precinct and started telling stories to defend himself and his friend. He said he didn’t hear a shot fired and didn’t see anyone running out the door.
In a tape shown to jurors last week, Pride claimed that he was smoking marijuana in the apartment that was robbed and nervously hid behind a boiler.
He said that he was trying to escape when he was confronted by a hooded man with a gun in his hand, who turned out to be Figoski. Pride said that after a struggle, a shot went off.
In court last week, jurors were shown crime scene photos of the basement where Figoski was shot and killed. They were also shown the alleged murder weapon, a 9mm Ruger pistol. Prosecutors said the gun was found underneath a vehicle near the scene.
Two other suspects in the case have pleaded not guilty. They have yet to stand trial.
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