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NYPD union rep: Officer to face charges in stairwell killing

The Brooklyn Paper
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A rookie cop will face criminal charges for shooting and killing a Red Hook man in an East New York public housing development, according to a police union rep.

Responding to reports that a grand jury had indicted Officer Peter Liang for Akai Gurley’s death in a stairwell of the Louis H. Pink Houses, the head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association confirmed the indictment and defended Liang in a statement, saying the high crime-rate of the development was a factor.

“This officer deserves the same due process afforded to anyone involved in the accidental death of another,” Patrick Lynch said. “The fact the he was assigned to patrol one most dangerous housing projects in New York City must be considered among the circumstances of this tragic accident.”

Gurley died on Nov. 20 after Liang shot him once in the chest in the building’s stairwell, cops said. Liang and his partner, who has not been charged, were patrolling the stairwell, and Liang had his gun drawn as he descended, according to police. He let off at least one round without warning when Gurley entered the stairwell one flight down, according to the NYPD.

In the wake of the killing, police Commissioner Bill Bratton declared it an accident and called Gurley a “total innocent.”

Lynch has also vehemently defended Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who, with other officers, killed Gowanus native Eric Garner in Staten Island in July, saying that the chokehold Pantaleo used on Garner was a “textbook takedown maneuver.” Lynch blamed Mayor DeBlasio and the protesters calling for Pantaleo’s indictment for the murder of two policemen in Bedford-Stuyvesant in December.

In a statement responding to Liang’s indictment, DeBlasio stressed that he wasn’t confirming it, and that people should avoid passing judgement for now.

“It has been reported that a Brooklyn grand jury has acted in this case,” he 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 prosecution came as welcome news to an attorney representing Gurley’s girlfriend in a $50-million lawsuit against the city, though a criminal trial would delay the suit.

“This is the first step toward justice,” Scott Rynecki said. “At this point, we will let justice take its course.”

Liang is expected to turn himself in on Wednesday morning, according to reports. The District Attorney’s Office declined to comment, but issued a tersely worded advisory saying that District Attorney Ken Thompson is meeting with reporters tomorrow afternoon, adding:

“No further information will be released until then as the results of the grand jury’s deliberations remain sealed as a matter of law.”

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Charles from Bklyn says:
More than likely, if this was an accident, the police officer will be acquitted. However, this could be an example of the way the grand jury process works. The community makes the decision to indict, and the judge or jury decide if there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt to convict. I guess we now expect police to never make mistakes. This expectation is a mistake.
Feb. 11, 2015, 11 am
ty from pps says:
This is how it should work... and how the Garner case should have worked. The grand jury (and the politically elected prosecutor) is not suppose to adjudicate guilt. They are supposed to decide if a trial is warranted.
Feb. 11, 2015, 1:46 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Officer had no reason to have his side arm in his hand. Officer had no reason to have his finger inside the trigger guard, never mind on the trigger.

Two rookies should not have been patroling together.
Feb. 11, 2015, 5:10 pm

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