The police shooting of Akai Gurley in November 2014 was exceptionally tragic. Gurley, an unarmed father, was walking up a dark stairwell in a Brooklyn apartment complex when he was shot by NYPD officer Peter Liang. Gurley was not a criminal and was doing nothing illegal, but Liang was an inexperienced rookie cop who claimed he was startled by a noise. Officer Liang offered no first aid to Gurley, and according to testimony he and his partner were more concerned about who was going to call their sergeant to report the shooting.
Apparently, Liang was so upset over the shooting when EMS arrived they gave him oxygen. However, Gurley’s girlfriend was left to cry over her beloved’s body.
Instead of using his flashlight in the dark hallway, he turned and fired his gun toward the sound. This decision has now led a jury to convict Liang of manslaughter and official misconduct.
On Thursday after two days of deliberation, the jury reached its verdict, which stunned the courtroom.
Although Liang is Chinese-American, the issue of the way Blacks are treated by the police was in the forefront of many people’s minds. Defenders of Liang stated it was just a tragic accident and that he was being used as a scapegoat for past injustices that have occurred in the Black community. But really it was Liang’s behavior and lack of action after the shooting that caused outrage. Liang admitted that he did not offer any help to Gurley or his weeping girlfriend, claiming that he felt that it was wiser for professionals to render aid. He also seemed more concerned about losing his job than the fact that he had taken an innocent man’s life.
Liang faces up to 15 years in prison in prison for his scheduled sentencing on April 14, 2016.