A rookie NYPD officer shot and killed a 28-year-old unarmed man in a dark stairwell late Thursday night.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the shooting, which took place in Brooklyn, appeared to be unprovoked.
“We don’t know enough yet, but it does appear to be an accident,” the mayor said at a news conference on Friday. “This is a tragedy.”
The victim was identified as Akai Gurley, and the officer, Peter Liang, has been placed on modified assignment and was relieved of both his badge and gun.
Police Commissioner William J. Bratton called the shooting “an unfortunate accident.”
Mr. Gurley “was a total innocent,” Mr. Bratton said. He was not engaged in any activity other than trying to walk down the stairs, Mr. Bratton said.
Officer Liang was on the job for less than 18 months. He and his partner were patrolling the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York when they encountered Mr. Gurley inside the nearly pitch-black stairwell just before midnight.
Liang drew his gun and flashlight as he entered the stairwell on the eight floor. Mr. Gurley and his girlfriend had entered the stairwell on the seventh floor at the same time.
“One officer discharged one round from his service weapon, striking the male in the chest,” according to a statement from the police.
Mr. Gurley was taken to Brookdale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Janice Butler’s sister was with Mr. Gurley at the time of his death. She said he had been in an apartment on the eighth floor getting his hair braided for several hours that night.
The two were exiting the building, and initially tried to take the elevator, but it was taking too long so they opted for the stairs. Ms. Butler said that, according to her sister, the police did not identify themselves, or give any commands.
Our condolences go out to Mr. Gurley’s family.
Sound off below!