The officer who shot and killed 28-year-old Brooklyn man Akai Gurley in November 2014 has chosen to face a city jury instead of a bench trial typical of these cases. Officer Peter Liang‘s legal team has confidence that the jury will see that Gurley’s shooting was an unfortunate accident.
Liang’s lawyers Robert Brown and Rae Downes Koshetz informed the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office of the decision to forego a bench trial decided by a judge, which is historically the choice of a police officer facing serious charges.
“We have great confidence in 12 jurors and are unshaken in our belief that this case was a terrible accident that never fit the definition of manslaughter and should never have led to an indictment,” Koshetz told “On the Inside.”
Liang, 27, was on a vertical patrol with his partner in the Pink Houses in East New York in November when he entered a dark stairwell with his gun drawn.
The weapon fired as he opened the metal stairwell door, sending a bullet ricocheting off a wall and downward, striking Gurley, 28, who had just entered the stairway one floor below with his girlfriend.
Of the police-related homicides across the nation over the past two years, national attention on Gurley’s case has cooled considerably. The move to face a jury is a bold one, considering that judges at the Supreme Court level would typically have more intimate knowledge of the rigors and potential mishaps surrounding police work.
Liang is still active on the force as he awaits trial this month.