NYPD officer found guilty of manslaughter in stairwell shooting
NEW YORK–A New York City police officer who shot an unarmed man in a pitch-dark public housing stairway has been convicted of manslaughter.
Jurors delivered their verdict Thursday in Officer Peter Liang’s trial, convicting him of manslaughter and official misconduct. However, they did not find him guilty on charges of assault, reckless endangerment and criminally negligent homicide, according to PIX 11.
The case has been closely watched by advocates for police accountability. A spokesman for the NYPD announced Thursday that Liang had been fired from the department.
The rookie officer was patrolling the stairwell with his gun drawn on November 20, 2014 when he fired. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit 28-year-old Akai Gurley on a lower floor.
Gurley was taking the stairs with his girlfriend instead of waiting for an elevator.
Prosecutors said Liang handled his gun recklessly and did almost nothing to help Gurley.
The 28-year-old Liang said he fired by accident after a noise startled him.
“I was panicking. I was in shock, in disbelief that someone was actually hit,” Liang said at trial.
However, prosecutors said during the trial that the officer, who had been on the job for 18 months, shot into the dark stairwell “for no reason” and then argued with his partner about calling for help. He also “whined and moaned about how he would get fired,” Assistant District Attorney Marc Fliedner said during the trial.
Liang acknowledged not helping Gurley’s girlfriend try to revive him, but Liang explained he thought it was wiser to wait for professional medical aid.
He now faces up to 15 years in prison.