Originally published on February 12, 2015, at NationofChange.org
An NYPD officer pleaded not guilty on Wednesday after a grand jury indicted him on charges involving the shooting of an unarmed innocent man. Charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and two counts of official misconduct, Officer Peter Liang claims his gun accidentally discharged when he opened the door to a dimly lit stairwell. But according to prosecutors, Liang’s failure to follow training or administer first aid resulted in the death of an innocent man.
On November 20, NYPD officers Peter Liang and Shaun Landau were conducting vertical patrols on the eighth floor of the Louis H. Pink housing project in Brooklyn. Although Deputy Inspector Miguel Iglesias had ordered them not to conduct vertical patrols inside the building, Liang reportedly opened the door accessing the stairwell with the same hand holding his Glock .9mm pistol. Instead of opening the door with his right hand which held his flashlight, Liang claims that he accidentally fired a shot that ricocheted off the wall and into Akai Gurley’s chest.
“They didn’t identify themselves,” recalled Gurley’s girlfriend, Melissa Butler. “No nothing. They didn’t give no explanation. They just pulled a gun and shot him in the chest.”
Standing on the floor below them, Gurley staggered down to the fifth floor where he collapsed. Melissa Butler ran to an apartment to ask for help and called 911. As the operator instructed Butler to administer first aid until the paramedics arrived, Liang and Landau remained upstairs texting their union rep instead of calling in the shooting.