It was a day that seemed to encapsulate the tough world of the latter-day NYPD.
Early Monday morning, Officer Peter J. Figoski, 47, was shot in the face after responding to a robbery in progress in Cyprus Hills, Brooklyn. He was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.
Then, hours later, video emerged of police jawing with (and pushing) NY Times photographer Robert Stolarik during an Occupy Wall Street protest inside The World Financial Center Monday morning. News sites, including this one, were quick to scorn the NYPD for seemingly breaking their earlier pledge to let reporters do their jobs.
But no matter how disagreeable the actions of the officers in this video may be, it does not – or should not – detract from the terrible death of a career NYPD cop and loving father of four girls who was killed as he was doing his job.
At 2:15 Monday morning, Officer Figoski and partner Officer Glenn Estrada were responding as backup to calls of a robbery at a basement apartment inside 25 Pine Street.
Lamont Pride, 27, and a fellow burglar – or “thug,” in tabloid parlance – emerged from a dark room inside the apartment and tried to escape. Mr. Pride’s accomplice tussled with Officer Estrada in front of the building while Mr. Pride tried to flee as well, running into Office Figoski instead.
With little hesitation, Mr. Pride fired his 9mm Ruger semi-automatic once at Officer Figoski’s face.
The bullet struck Officer Figoski below his left eye and exited the back of his head, according to The New York Times.
Mr. Pride then fled on foot and Officer Estrada gave chase, letting the other suspect he had been grappling with escape. Officer Estrada eventually arrested Mr. Pride following a four-block pursuit.
While Officer Figoski was rushed to Jamaica Hospital, two of his four daughters were reportedly flown in by helicopter from their colleges in upstate New York. His other two daughters, both high school students in the West Babylon, Long Island town where the Figoski family lived, were also rushed to the hospital with their mother, Paulette.
Officer Figoski, a 22-year veteran of the force assigned to the 75th Precinct, was pronounced dead five hours after being shot.
He became the first officer to die after being shot in the line of duty since July 9, 2007, when Russel Timoshenko, 23, died from gunshot wounds sustained while conducting a traffic stop in Crown Heights.
He also became the second police officer to be killed in the line of duty since March 13, when Alain Schaberger was pushed over a stoop while making an arrest.
The three men involved in Officer Timoshenko’s death were arrested four days after his shooting.
It took cops less than 24 hours to arrest four people wanted in connection with Officer Figoski’s slaying, including the suspect who escaped after fighting with Officer Estrada.
As this story will evidence, it’s not easy being a good cop, which Officer Figoski clearly was (he received a medal for arresting a person wanted for a livery cab robbery and recovered the gun used in the crime, according to The NY Times).
Despite the increased scrutiny being placed on the Department following a year marked by the Bronx ticket scandals, OWS arrests, and other police misdeeds, one truth is unavoidable:
A good cop’s death is not just a loss for the NYPD, but for all of New York City.