Peter Liang, the rookie cop who fatally shot Akai Gurley in a stairwell last year in a New York public housing building, has been found guilty of manslaughter. The New York Daily News reports the ruling was delivered Thursday evening (February 11)
The 28-year-old was also found guilty of official misconduct after a 911 call revealed he didn’t assist Gurley, 28, who bled to death. The shooting happened in April 2015 when Liang and his partner Officer Shaun Landau were patrolling Pink Houses in Brooklyn. After entering a dimly lit staircase, Liang fired his gun the same time as Gurley and his girlfriend Melissa Butler entered from a higher floor. The bullet ricocheted off the wall, hitting Gurley in the chest.
As the defense argued Liang was in fear of his life and was essentially shaken after Gurley was shot, prosecutors questioned why he and his partner didn’t help administer CPR on Gurley who succumbed to his injury. Butler was given CPR directions from a neighbor who called 911.
Gawker reports Assistant District Attorney Joseph Alexis also questioned the officer’s actions during closing arguments.
“No matter what happened in the police academy with police training, you can rest assured Peter Liang, Shaun, and every other graduate of the academy was better equipped, better trained, and able to do the chest compressions Melissa Butler was forced to do while she knelt in [Gurley’s] blood and urine,” he said. “This is not an accident. This is an officer who couldn’t properly handle his gun,” Alexis said. “It’s no accident [the bullet] hit the wall steps away from where Akai Gurley stood.”
The conviction comes a week after a Michigan police officer was sentenced to 13 months to 10 years for beating an unarmed Black man after a traffic violation. William Melendez was given a stern speech by Judge Vonda Evans on the mistreatment of African-Americans and failed practices of law enforcement.
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch wasn’t thrilled about the sentencing, telling reporters the jury made the wrong choice. “We are very disappointed in the verdict and believe that the jury came to an absolutely wrong decision.”
Liang will be sentenced on April 14.