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Gunman Gets 25 Years for Shooting N.Y. Officer

A Roosevelt man who pleaded guilty to shooting a Hempstead Village police officer in 2011 apologized for his crime Monday, moments before a Nassau judge sentenced him to 25 years in prison.

"I apologize for my actions," said Michael Benitez, 23. "It was wrong to do what I did."

Benitez pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder in January, shortly after lawyers made opening statements in his trial. The plea carried a negotiated sentence of 25 years in prison.

Benitez's lawyer, Dana Grossblatt, of Jericho, declined to comment after Nassau County Judge Tammy Robbins sentenced her client.

Prosecutor Martin Meaney said plainclothes officers stopped Benitez and a companion as they walked near Washington Street and Fulton Avenue in Hempstead Village shortly after 3 a.m. Dec. 2, 2011, to ask them about two street robberies that had been reported in the area an hour earlier.

Benitez ran, police said, and then shot at a uniformed officer, who arrived to assist the plainclothes officers.

Police did not release the officer's identity, describing him only as 25 years old and a two-year member of the force.

One bullet hit the officer in the back and was stopped by his vest; another hit him in the left arm. The officer managed to return fire, hitting Benitez three times. The officer was treated for his injuries and released. Benitez was treated for arm, leg and groin wounds.

Police initially charged Benitez with attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

"In the face of incredible violence, and despite being shot multiple times, this police officer didn't blink," Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement. "He held his ground and performed his duty bravely."

Copyright 2013 - Newsday

McClatchy-Tribune News Service