A jury has convicted NYPD officer Peter Liang on a charge of manslaughter after shooting and killing Akai Gurley in November 2014.
On Nov. 20, 2014, Liang was a rookie cop preparing to start his shift walking up and down stairs in the Pink Houses in New York City. With his gun drawn, Liang was startled and claims he accidentally pulled the trigger. The bullet ricocheted and hit Gurley in the chest.
When Liang and his partner got to Gurley they realized that their assumption that no one had been shot was incorrect. The two officers debated on who should call in the incident before Liang called his supervisor via cell phone instead of over the recorded radio line.
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said the verdict “only had to do with one police killing and that’s the one that Officer Peter Liang committed in the Pink Houses on Nov. 20, 2014,” according to New York Daily News. “It’s as simple as that.”
“This has to do with who are we here in Brooklyn,” she continued. “We support our police officers, but when innocent men are shot and killed through an act of recklessness, we have to hold whoever is responsible accountable, whether that is a police officer or not.”
Gurley’s mother was happy to hear the verdict. Liang’s attorney says they’ll surely be appealing the decision.
Residents that live near where the incident happened also had reactions following the jury’s decision.
“Very good because he did nothing to save him,”said Catherine Collette, a 76-year-old resident of the Pink Houses. “Everyone heard the thing go off. I’m so glad because at least they hear you. They finally hear you. Justice served finally.”
Collette’s comment calls back on the fact that when Liang and his partner found Gurley, they chose to let his friend, Melissa Butler, conduct CPR because they felt they couldn’t do it as well as her.
The conviction in this case shows that the recent increase in public outcry against police shootings are starting to change the public’s opinions. Liang is the first NYPD to be convicted of a police-involved shooting in a decade.
Photo Credit: Photo provided by Akai Gurley’s family