The NYPD officer who shot and killed Akai Gurley, a 28 year-old unarmed Brooklyn man, has been indicted by a grand jury, NY1 reported this afternoon.
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson’s ability to secure a grand jury indictment of a police officer in the death of a civilian is likely to draw praise from activists who were enraged after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner. Gurley’s family also called for the rookie officer, Peter Liang, to be indicted on a homicide charge. According to the Daily News, the indictment is for manslaughter.
Mr. Liang shot and killed the unarmed Gurley in an unlit stairwell inside an East New York public housing development. Gurley had entered the stairwell with his girlfriend and Mr. Liang, with his gun drawn already, and fired one fatal shot that struck Gurley in the chest. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said in November that the shooting was an accident.
Mr. de Blasio also urged New Yorkers not to “connect the dots” between the Gurley, Garner and Michael Brown deaths, which all involved unarmed African-Americans and police. The Gurley shooting, along with the Staten Island grand jury’s decision, drove tens of thousands of protesters into New York streets and highways throughout December.
Mr. Thompson, the first African-American district attorney for Brooklyn, faced outside pressure to secure an indictment in the Gurley case, though the soft-spoken district attorney said he would be unmoved by political forces. Mr. Thompson campaigned on a platform of reforming relations between the police and minority communities in 2013.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Thompson declined to comment on whether there had been an indictment.
But the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the union that Mr. Liang and all of the city’s police officers, said the officer deserves due process in the justice system.