Akai Gurley, an African-American man, was shot and killed on Nov. 20 by a police officer inside a stairwell of a housing project in Brooklyn, New York.
Two NYPD officers had entered the dark stairwell on the eighth floor on a "vertical patrol," while Gurley and his girlfriend, Melissa Butler, entered the same stairwell from the seventh floor.
NYPD officer Peter Liang had his 9-millimeter semiautomatic gun drawn and fired a bullet into Gurley's chest, killing him.
According to The New York Times, NYPD commissioner William Bratton said the shooting was “an unfortunate accident” and that Gurley was “a total innocent.”
Officer Liang reportedly fired his gun by accident while turning a doorknob and pushing the stairwell door open; however, the NYPD has said that story is subject to changes.
Community and civil rights leaders are outraged over the shooting and what allegedly happened next at the Louis H. Pink Houses project.
Unidentified sources have told the New York Daily News that while Gurley was dying inside the stairwell, Officer Liang and Officer Shaun Landau could not be reached by their commanding officer or an emergency operator.
An unidentified neighbor had called 911 after hearing the gunshot.
A law enforcement source told the New York Daily News that Officers Liang and Landau were busy texting their union rep.
“That’s showing negligence,” said the law enforcement source. “The guy is dying, and you still haven’t called it in?”
Sources also claim that Deputy Inspector Miguel Iglesias had told Officers Liang and Landau not to conduct "vertical patrols" in the stairways.
“But Iglesias’ philosophy was ‘I want a presence on the street, in the courtyards,' and if they go into the buildings, they were just supposed to check out the lobby,” a police source told the New York Daily News.
Another source claimed Deputy Inspector Iglesias said, “I told them not to do verticals.”
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson is expected to present evidence to a grand jury regarding the shooting later this month.
“I would be surprised if it is not at least presented to a grand jury,” Kenneth Montgomery, an attorney for Gurley family, told the New York Daily News. “It’s a debacle and it speaks of criminal negligence.”