A New York City police officer walking down the stairs of an apartment building with his gun drawn came across an unarmed man and his girlfriend also walking down the stairs – opening fire and killing the 28-year-old man Thursday – in what NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton is calling “an accidental discharge.”
Hours earlier, another NYPD cop was caught on video swinging his baton at an accused fare hopper in a subway station, leaving the 20-year-old man with a bloodied face to the shock and outrage of witnesses. That beating takes places in the opening seconds of the top video.
On one hand, we can see that it’s business as usual for the NYPD under Bratton, who took over the aggressive department this year, vowing to minimize police abuse, even though it has been under intense scrutiny since the Eric Garner chokehold death caught on video earlier this year, whom incidentally, testified in front of a grand jury earlier today.
On the other hand, the fact that he is not trying to blame the victim for his death, even though it took place off camera in a secluded stairwell, indicates he is not turning on the Police PR Spin Machine as the NYPD normally does – except to say the stairwell was dark and scary.
In fact, Bratton along with Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the family of victim Akai Gurley Friday, meaning they will probably soon be dishing out a hefty settlement.
But what will happen to the officer, Peter Liang, a rookie who has been with the department for only 18 months, freshly trained out of the academy to be in constant fear for his life?
It doesn’t look as if he will remain a cop considering the top brass is not supporting him.
However, NYPD union president Patrick Lynch turned on the Police PR Spin Machine by insisting “only time and a thorough investigation will tell us what transpired in this case.”
Liang was treated at a local hospital for ringing in the ears from the gunshot.
According to Newsday:
The deceased is totally innocent,” Bratton said at a news conference yesterday. “This is a very unfortunate tragedy. It appears that this was an accidental discharge.”
Liang, on the job fewer than 18 months, has been put on modified duty and stripped of his badge and gun during an internal investigation of the shooting, which happened inside of the Louis H. Pink Houses of East New York, on Linden Boulevard.
Late Friday, Bratton, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, met with Gurley’s family. The family is to appear Saturday in Harlem for the Rev. Al Sharpton’s weekly rally.
Just before the shooting, Gurley had been at a girlfriend’s seventh-floor apartment in the building. The couple then took the stairs because the elevator was delayed. Liang and his partner were descending from the eighth floor, on “vertical patrol” to combat a crime uptick, including recent robberies, assaults and homicides.
After the 11:15 p.m. shooting, Liang and his partner left the scene but returned a short time later. Gurley, who police said was hit once in the chest, died at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center at 11:55 p.m. The officers went to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for tinnitus, ringing in the ears.
Also treated at the hospital was the NYPD officer in the above video, suffering wounds to his hand and arm from using his baton on the fare hopper, Donovan Lawson, who was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and obstruction of government administration.
Gurley, who leaves behind two children, was planning on surprising his mother and sister in Florida for the holidays.