NBC New York
It was a sea of blue Monday as thousands and thousands of fellow NYPD officers came out to Long Island to pay their respects to the family of Det. Peter Figoski, who was gunned down last week in the line of duty. Greg Cergol reports.
An NYPD veteran killed during a botched robbery in Brooklyn was remembered at his funeral Monday as a family man who was considered by other officers "a model for how to do things right."
Police officers carried the casket of 47-year-old Peter Figoski into St. Joseph's Church, past the tear-filled faces of his four daughters, at the start of a heart-breaking funeral Mass in Babylon.
Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Rep. Peter King were among the dignitaries on hand to pay their respects to the fallen officer, who lived in West Babylon.
"Other officers just felt safer knowing Pete was around," Kelly said. "To quote one of them, 'This was the guy you wanted to show up if one of your family members ever needed help.'"
Kelly told mourners about Figoski's well-known devotion to his own four girls, Carolyn, 16, Corrine, 14, Christine, 20, and Caitlyn, 18. He never wanted his family to worry, telling his children that he spent shifts just sitting in his car.
"But the reality was very different," Kelly said. This year alone, Figoski and his partner made 50 arrests. During his career he had more than 200 arrests of his own and earned 12 medals.
"Throughout the command, Pete was looked upon as a model for how to do things right, whether it was searching a prisoner or helping someone who was homeless to find shelter," Kelly said.
The mayor announced Figoski was posthumously promoted to detective.
Police officers lined up for blocks and some watched from the Long Island Rail Road platform about a quarter mile away.
Brenda Ramos, a 21-year NYPD veteran from the 75th Precinct who first worked with Figoski in the 1990s, told NBC New York how challenging the day is for the force and for the officer's family.
"Many of us have been crying all morning but we want to hold it together for his daughters," Ramos said.
A member of the 75th Precinct in the East New York neighborhood, Figoski was shot last Monday while responding to a report of a break-in a Brooklyn apartment.
Lamont Pride and four others are accused of trying to rob a marijuana dealer in the basement apartment. When they 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 once in the face 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.
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, 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, NBC New York first reported.
Pride also served a short prison term in North Carolina for robbery.