Updated: February 10, 2015: Rookie NYPD officer Peter Liang was indicted Tuesday by a Brooklyn grand jury in last November’s deadly shooting of Akai Gurley in an unlit stairwell of a housing project, according to the New York Daily News.
Liang will face criminal charges that can send him to prison for up to 15 years in the Nov. 20, 2014 shooting, a source told the News. Liang was on patrol at the Pink Houses in Brooklyn’s East New York when Gurley and his girlfriend opened a door into the dark stairwell. That’s when police say Liang fired without uttering a word.
The News reports:
A grand jury started hearing the case on Feb 4. A spokeswoman for the Brooklyn district attorney declined to comment.
A source said Liang was indicted for a top count second-degree manslaughter, which means he acted recklessly, among other charges.
Liang discharged one bullet when patrolling the stairways of the Pink Houses in East New York, striking Gurley in the chest as the man stood in the landing a floor below.
The News reported that Liang and his partner did not answer the radio in the six-plus minutes right after the shooting and instead texted their union reps.
The DA had obtained an indictment in recent months against three cops in two different incidents involving alleged assaults during arrests.
But Liang’s indictment could represent a shift in the ongoing battle against police brutality in the Black community, which boiled over during the holidays when two cops were gunned down by a mentally ill man in Brooklyn as they sat in their patrol car.
After the shooting, police union officials said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had “blood on his hands” because he had spoken out against police violence. Protests erupted across the nation recently after grand juries decided not to indict officers in fatal shootings of unarmed Black men in New York’s Staten Island and in Ferguson, Mo.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton initially called Gurley’s shooting “an unfortunate accident,” a sentiment that was echoed by Ed Mullins, president of the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association.
“It’s a tragic, tragic, tragic case,” Mullins said. “I’m sad that he was indicted. I don’t know exactly what transpired in that hallway, but I believe it’s a truly accidental incident.”
Liang is expected to turn himself in Wednesday morning ahead of his arraignment in Brooklyn Supreme Court, the News reports.
Rookie NYPD officer Peter Liang has been indicted in the shooting death of Akai Gurley, according to PIX 11 News:
Gurley, 28, was shot in the chest and killed when a police officer’s gun “accidentally discharged” inside the Pink Houses’ dimly lit staircase on Nov. 21 in Brooklyn. Liang and another officer were working as part of a “violence reduction overtime detail” were patrolling the building at the time.
Police said that’s when Gurley and his girlfriend opened a door into the stairway a floor below the officers.
Check back for updates on this breaking story.