Rookie Cop Who Says Killing Of Unarmed Man Was An Accident Learns His Fate

| by Nicholas Roberts
Peter LiangPeter Liang

A rookie NYPD officer was convicted of manslaughter on Feb. 11 for the 2014 shooting of an unarmed man.

Officer Peter Liang, 27, was on a routine patrol in Brooklyn on Nov. 20, 2014, the New York Daily News reports.  At some point during the patrol, Liang entered a dark housing-project stairwell with his gun drawn. 

When the officer heard a noise that startled him, he fired the weapon, NPR reports. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and then fatally wounded an unarmed man.

Police Commissioner William Bratton told reporters the next day that it was an "accidental discharge," according to CNN.

Liang argued in his testimony that he was in disbelief when he discovered that he had actually hit someone.

The victim was 28-year-old Akai Gurley, who had been at the apartment complex to get his hair done before going on a Thanksgiving trip with his fiancee and their two children, NPR reports.

Liang and his partner went to investigate the scene after Liang's gun fired. They found Gurley lying in a pool of blood. 

Assistant District Attorney Marc Fliedner, who prosecuted the case, accused Liang of being reckless with his weapon and then failing to provide first aid to Gurley after he had been shot.

"Instead of doing all that he could to help Akai Gurley, he wasted precious time arguing with his partner about calling for help," Fliedner told jurors in January, according to CNN. "In fact, instead of calling for help, he just stood there and whined and moaned about how he would get fired."

A lawyer for Kim Ballinger, the mother of Gurley's 2-year-old child, said his client wondered if the lack of aid ultimately caused Gurley's death.

Liang's lawyer, Rae Koshetz, argued that providing aid would not have helped the victim.

"The evidence in this case will show that this was a million-to-one possibility," Koshetz said. "The bullet had traveled downward, hit the cinderblock wall on the side of the stairs, and then ricocheted and hit Mr. Gurley a floor below and completely out of sight. And it hits him on his left side. It is a fatal wound, and you will hear that no amount of CPR would have saved his life."

The jury ultimately found Liang guilty of manslaughter. His sentencing hearing is set for April 14. He faces up to 15 years in prison.

Sources: CNN, NPRNew York Daily News / Photo Credit: Jesse Ward/New York Daily News

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