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NYPD Officer Indicted for Shooting Unarmed Black Man in Housing Project Stairwell

A grand jury decided that rookie cop Peter Liang should face criminal charges for fatally shooting Akai Gurley in a New York housing project last year.

by VICE News
Feb 10 2015, 8:20pm

Photo via Flickr

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A New York police officer was indicted Tuesday for fatally shooting an unarmed black man in a housing project stairwell last year.

Rookie officer Peter Liang is expected to turn himself in Wednesday, according to the New York Daily News. Liang faces criminal charges for killing 28-year-old Akai Gurley on November 20, 2014. A grand jury that convened February 4 took six days to decide whether to indict Liang.

Gurley, the father of a 2-year-old daughter, was spending the evening with his girlfriend in her apartment in East New York on the night he was killed. He went to leave the building complex and was shot immediately in a darkened stairwell.

Liang and a partner were patrolling the apartments. The officer apparently discharged his Glock 9mm accidentally, firing a bullet that ricocheted off the wall and traveled down the stairwell to the floor below, where it hit Gurley in the chest, the Daily News reported.

Reports later emerged that Liang and his partner texted their police union representatives instead of making a radio call for help as Gurley lay dying in the stairwell. A neighbor called 911 after hearing the gunshot.

The officers were also not supposed to be patrolling the stairways of the building, sources told the Daily News.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called the shooting an "unfortunate tragedy," while Liang reportedly told colleagues, "I shot him accidentally."

Gurley's family wants those responsible to reimburse them for the cost of his funeral.

"He didn't do nothing wrong," Melissa Butler, Gurley's girlfriend, said. "He was just standing there and they shot him. He was an innocent man."

Photo via Flickr