The medical examiner’s office has ruled the police shooting of Akai Gurley a homicide.
Gurley, the unarmed Brooklyn man who was killed by a probationary NYPD officer in a dark stairwell last week, was pronounced dead at the hospital late Thursday after being shot in the chest. The officer who shot Gurley, Peter Liang, was assigned to patrol the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York as part of a violence reduction overtime detail.
Liang and his partner, both of whom have less than 18 months on the force, were conducting a floor-by-floor sweep of the building and had gone to the roof when they noticed there were no lights in the stairwell leading up to it. Given the location and lack of light, Liang drew his weapon and a flashlight for safety reasons, police have said. The other officer kept his service weapon holstered.
As the officers were entering the eighth-floor landing, Gurley emerged on the seventh-floor landing. He heard a noise and turned to look up at the two officers a floor above him, a law enforcement source said. Then Liang, who had his gun in his left hand and his flashlight in his right, fired accidentally, hitting Gurley 11 feet below him, according to Bratton.
Gurley’s girlfriend rushed to his side to administer first aid. Liang and his partner found the couple on the fifth floor. Despite the medical examiner’s office ruling the death a homicide, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called the shooting an accident.
The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating along with the district attorney’s office. Liang has been placed on modified duty pending the outcome of the investigation.
The police union has called for a thorough investigation. Neither the union nor the NYPD could immediately be reached for comment on the medical examiner’s ruling.
We’ll keep you updated with the latest.
SOURCE: NBC | PHOTO CREDIT: Screengrab