NYPD Cop Fatally Shot ‘Totally Innocent’ Unarmed Black Man, Chief Calls It ‘Unfortunate Accident’
A rookie New York police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man in a Brooklyn housing project on Thursday, an incident the chief of police called an “unfortunate accident.”
On Thursday, Peter Liang and his fellow rookie partner Shaun Landau entered the Pink Houses at Linden Boulevard at 11:15. The New York Post reports 28-year-old Akai Gurley exited a floor with his girlfriend into the staircase and “startled the officers.”
The Post reports Liang fired one shot into Gurley’s chest from about 10 to 12 feet away. Gurley tumbled down the stairs and was later declared dead.
In a press conference on Friday, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the shooting was an “unfortunate accident” and the result of a “pitch black” staircase.
“As the officers were entering the eighth-floor landing, the lights were not operable,” Bratton said. “Everything points to accidental discharge.”
Reporters asked Bratton why the officers were openly carrying their weapons even though they were just checking the building on a routine patrol.
“We leave that decision to the officers based on what they are encountering or what they may encounter,” Bratton said. “But as in all cases, an officer would have to justify the reasoning for unholstering his firearm.”
Bratton added that Gurley died because of an unfortunate “coincidence” and that he had done nothing wrong.
“The deceased is a total innocent who had just happened to be in the hallway at the same time as the cops,” Bratton said. “The deceased was not engaged in any activity other than trying to enter the stairwell.”
Gurley’s girlfriend, 26-year-old Melissa Butler, told DNAinfo, “They didn’t present themselves or nothing and shot him. As soon as he came in, the police opened the [door to the] eighth floor staircase. They didn’t identify themselves at all. They just shot.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the shooting as well, saying, “There’s going to be a full investigation, to say the least. This is a tragic situation – that’s the bottom line. This is a tragedy, a life was lost and my heart goes out to the family. On a very human level, we lost a life today. But it does appear to have been a very tragic accident.”