Rookie NYPD Officer Indicted in Shooting Death of Unarmed Man in Dark Stairwell | NBC New York

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Rookie NYPD Officer Indicted in Shooting Death of Unarmed Man in Dark Stairwell

Police say 28-year-old Akai Gurley was killed in an accident in a dark stairway

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    A rookie NYPD officer has been indicted in the shooting of Akai Gurley. The 28-year-old was unarmed when he was shot and killed in a dark stairwell of the Louis Pink Houses in East New York. Gus Rosendale reports. (Published Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015)

    A grand jury has indicted an NYPD officer in the November shooting of an unarmed Brooklyn man in a darkened public housing building's stairwell, a law enforcement source and a lawyer for the victim's family told NBC 4 New York.

    The Brooklyn district attorney's office would not comment on grand jury proceedings, but the law enforcement source and a family attorney said officer Peter Liang has been indicted in the fatal shooting of 28-year-old Akai Gurley and will surrender Wednesday.

    The charge, which is not yet known, will be unsealed, according to the Associated Press.

    “This is the first step in a fight for justice in this wrongful and reckless shooting of an innocent man,” Gurley family attorney Scott Rynecki said. The family will address the media outside of court Wednesday, he said.  

    I-Team: Darkened Stairwell Not the Only Problem at Police Shooting Building

    [NY] I-Team: Darkened Stairwell Not the Only Problem at Police Shooting Building
    Lighting problems at the Pink Houses in Brooklyn made headlines after police shot an innocent, unarmed man in a dark stairwell. But long before Akai Gurley was accidentally killed by a rookie cop, federal regulators knew about severe repair problems at the public housing complex. I-Team reporter Chris Glorioso reports. (Published Monday, Dec. 15, 2014)

    The head of the NYPD officer's union said Liang deserves the same due process afforded to anyone involved in an accidental death.    

    "The fact that he was assigned to patrol one most dangerous housing projects in New York City must be considered among the circumstances of this tragic accident,” Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said in a statement. 

    Activists Protest Police Shooting of Akai Gurley

    [NY] Activists Protest Police Shooting of Akai Gurley
    Protesters hit the streets in Brooklyn on Saturday demanding justice for Akai Gurley. He was unarmed when police say he was mistakenly shot by an officer in the Pink Houses in East New York last month. News 4's Ida Siegal reports. (Published Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014)

    Mayor de Blasio urged "everyone to respect the judicial process as it unfolds”

    Police say Gurley was accidentally killed after opening a door in a pitch-dark stairway that Liang, a rookie officer, was patrolling in the Pink Houses in East New York.

    Brooklyn Man Shot by Cop in Stairwell Mourned as D.A. Announces Grand Jury to Be Impaneled

    [NY] Brooklyn Man Shot by Cop in Stairwell Mourned as D.A. Announces Grand Jury to Be Impaneled
    The Brooklyn district attorney's office told NBC 4 New York it would impanel a grand jury to consider charges in the case of Akai Gurley, the unarmed man fatally shot by police in a dark Brooklyn housing project stairwell late last month. Gurley was mourned at a wake Friday night. Michael George reports. (Published Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014)

    Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said that the shooting was an accident and called Gurley a "total innocent." Liang was placed on desk duty after the shooting. The shooting, amid the choking death of Eric Garner, sparked protests around the city.

    Police say Liang and his partner, who both had 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 fired, hitting Gurley 11 feet below him, according to police.Gurley was shot in the chest. He stumbled down to his girlfriend, who was by that point on the fifth floor, and she tried to administer first aid, authorities said. Liang and his partner found the couple on the fifth floor; 911 had already been called. Gurley was pronounced dead at a hospital.

    Neighbors in the Pink Houses said news of the indictment is encouraging.

    "This is going in a proper direction," said Ty Black. "At the same time, we still have a lot of fight in us. We are sticking to what we want, which is jail time and a conviction." 

    In the meantime, some security measures at the Pink Houses appear to have improved. One neighbor said lights are working and cameras are visible.

    The last officer to be indicted in New York was Richard Haste. Haste was indicted on a manslaughter charge in the death of Ramarley Graham on Feb. 2, 2012, in the Bronx after a suspected drug bust gone awry. The case was tossed on a technicality, and another grand jury declined to indict the officer.

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