MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Uniondale man could spend the rest of his life behind bars, after shooting but missing four police officers in Nassau County.
Prosecutors say the case underscores the dangers police face, even during a routine traffic stop, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.
The four officers are lucky to be alive. They were in court Thursday to witness the sentencing of the man convicted of shooting at them.
Back in October 2018, during a routine traffic stop in Hempstead for failing to signal, prosecutors say Duane Costa, an ex-convict with two illegal guns, fled the car and shot seven times at police in pursuit.
"Costa was shooting to kill. He didn't want to be arrested. He didn't want to be caught. He didn't wanted to be stopped. Costa wanted to end the lives of those officers and, thankfully, he missed," Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said.
Donnelly said bullets flew two to three feet from an officer's head. Costa dropped the guns, which were later matched with photos on his cellphone. Surveillance video captured him running from police and a cloud of gun smoke.
The judge praised the cops for their incredible restraint.
"With a gun literally pointed at their heads, they made the decision not to return fire," Donnelly said.
"I asked ne of them today in the courtroom why didn't you fire, and they said because there was an innocent victim between us," Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
Costa maintained his innocence, telling the judge, "We are being shot at. We are being killed. You should all be ashamed," and then, referencing the NYPD, "The two officers who were killed are turning over in their graves. I am going to pray for you and them."
"Mr. Costa, you can keep your prayers because prayers that come from people that are evil are only prayers of evil," Ryder said.
Costa was sentenced as a persistent violent offender, with a decades-long rap sheet and prison time for burglary, robbery, menacing, even throwing human excrement.
"Things could have went very differently. We are leaving here soon to go to a wake and a funeral to bury our brother. We need to be tough on crime," Nassau PBA President Thomas Shevlin said.
The judge sentenced the 40-year-old to 25 years to life, telling him, "You are lucky, Mr. Costa, you are alive," adding the job of a police officer is thankless and there is no excuse for shooting at people who put their lives on the line.
Costa was convicted in a bench trial of attempted murder and criminal use and possession of a firearm.
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