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Unarmed Brooklyn Man Killed in Accidental Police Shooting

Submitted by on November 22, 2014 – 1:07 pmNo Comment


Another day, another innocent civilian killed in a police shooting. Akai Gurley, 28, was killed in the dark stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project after a rookie police officer’s drawn gun discharged accidentally during a routine patrol.

Probationary Officer Peter Liang, 27, had been on the job less than 18 months. According to the New York Times, he attempted to open the stairwell door with the same hand with which he was holding his weapon. The gun went off, and the bullet hit Gurley, who was several floors below Liang and his partner. Gurley and his girlfriend reportedly took the stairs after a long wait for the elevator.

The NYPD has no prohibition on patrolling stairwells with a gun drawn.

Given the current climate around police shootings, the NYPD took some unusual steps in the wake of Gurley’s death. They immediately released Liang’s name, and announced that he had surrendered his gun and badge, as is routine during police shooting investigations. The department also took pains to emphasize that Gurley was a complete innocent, and the shooting was accidental. Mayor Bill DiBlasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray, and Police Commissioner William Bratton visited the home of Gurley’s family to express their condolences.

The department is still on the defensive over the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died after being place in a chokehold by police; officer were trying to detain him for illegally selling cigarettes. And Ferguson, Missouri is has experienced three straight nights of unrest as a grand jury decides whether or not to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown.

In both those cases, at least some blame has been placed on the deceased; in the case of Brown, the officer claims Brown was assaulting him, while some witnesses say Brown was trying to surrender.

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