Originally published on November 23, 2014, at NationofChange.org
While routinely patrolling a Brooklyn housing project on Thursday night, an NYPD officer shot and killed an unarmed man who police admit had not been engaging in any criminal activity. The officer involved in the shooting claims he accidentally discharged his weapon, but city officials believe the officer’s inexperience and cowardice caused the innocent man’s death.
After hanging out at his girlfriend’s apartment on the seventh floor of the Louis H. Pink housing project in Brooklyn, Akai Gurley and his girlfriend Melissa Butler attempted to take the elevator downstairs around 11:15pm on Thursday. Tired of waiting for the elevator, Gurley and Butler chose to take the stairs down instead. Butler entered the dimly lit stairwell and began descending the steps as Gurley followed her.
On the floor above them, NYPD officers Peter Liang and Shaun Landau were conducting a routine vertical patrol of the building. As Officer Liang entered the stairwell from the eighth floor with his flashlight and gun drawn, he fired a single shot striking Gurley in the chest. Gurley managed to stagger down to the fifth floor where he collapsed.
“They didn’t identify themselves,” recalled Butler. “No nothing. They didn’t give no explanation. They just pulled a gun and shot him in the chest.”