NYPD officer Peter Liang has pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, second-degree assault and two counts of official misconduct for the shooting death of 28-year-old father Akai Gurley in a Brooklyn housing complex. The shooting came on the heals of Eric Garner’s death in November of last year, and has been a contributing factor to nonviolent protests across the nation.
Liang and his partner were patrolling the Louis Pink Houses in East New York due to an increase in violent crime in the housing complex. The tandem walked into the pitch dark building making their way to the eighth floor where Akai Gurley and a female friend were waiting for an elevator that was not operating correctly. Gurley stepped away to take the stairs.
Liang had his gun drawn along with a flashlight. Once he opened the door, he fired a shot. The bullet hit Gurley and traveled through his heart, diaphragm and liver, killing him. Liang and his partner were flustered and didn’t call in the shooting for four minutes.
Kim Ballinger, Gurley’s domestic partner, has filed notices of claim against the city of New York and its Housing Authority. She is seeking a total of $50 million for the death of Akai Gurley. Liang faces prison time for his blunder. The manslaughter charge alone carries a potential 15 year sentence.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the situation, “The only thing we know for sure is there was a human tragedy involving Mr. Gurley. He’s gone. I spent time with his domestic partner and his child. They’ve lost a loved one. That’s a fact. That’s a tragedy. But everything else has to be determined through a judicial process.”