Peter Liang, the rookie cop who shot and killed unarmed Brooklyn man Akai Gurley in an unlit housing project staircase was indicted for manslaughter today. The grand jury decided that Liang will face criminal charges that could put him in prison for up to 15 years. Liang shot and killed Gurley on November 20th of last year.
Sources said Liang, 27, was indicted for a top count second-degree manslaughter, which means he acted recklessly. He was also charged with reckless endangerment, second-degree assault and official misconduct.
“I’m glad the grand jury looked at the evidence and returned an indictment,” Kimberly Ballinger, the victim’s domestic partner and mother of his 2-year-old daughter, told The New York Daily News.
“I am happy, I have faith in the Brooklyn District Attorney and I thank him.”
Liang discharged one bullet when patrolling the stairways of the Pink Houses in East New York, striking the 28-year-old Gurley in the chest as the man stood in the landing a floor below next to his girlfriend.
The probationary officer, who has been a member of the NYPD for only 18 months, was allegedly holding a flashlight in one hand and clutched a 9-mm Glock in his left hand, which he also used to open a door when the gun fired.
It was said that Liang and his partner did not answer the radio in the six-plus minutes right after the shooting and instead texted their union delegates.
Liang is expected to turn himself in Wednesday morning ahead of his arraignment in Brooklyn Supreme Court. He will appear in front of Justice Danny Chun.
NY Mayor de Blasio said: “No matter the specific charges, this case is an unspeakable tragedy for the Gurley family. We urge everyone to respect the judicial process as it unfolds.”
The closely watched case came after grand juries in Missouri and Staten Island declined in recent months to file charges against police officers accused of killing unarmed black men. The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner sparked a national protest movement and calls for reform and may have had some weight in the delicate handling of this case by the Grand Jury.
We will continue to keep you updated on this story as it develops.