Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old Brooklyn man, was killed by a New York police officer named Peter Liang on November 20, as Gurley, a father of two, walked down a darkened stairwell in the Louis Pink Housing project with his 27-year-old girlfriend. Police acknowledge that Gurley was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, with New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton calling the shooting “an unfortunate tragedy” and Hurley “a total innocent.”
The killing itself might have been a horrifying mistake by a nervous rookie cop with an itchy trigger finger — a Brooklyn grand jury will decide, District Attorney Kenneth Thompson announced Friday. But Liang’s behavior following the shooting casts a new, more sinister light on the killing of Akai Gurley that could change the way the grand jury looks at Liang’s actions.
According to a story broken by the New York Daily News, for nearly seven minutes after he shot Gurley in the torso, Liang and his partner could not be reached by their commanding officer and a 911 dispatcher who had received an emergency call from the area.
And rather than immediately call for assistance as Gurley lay dying, Liang was on his phone sending text messages to his union representative.
“That’s showing negligence,” a law enforcement source told the Daily News. “The guy is dying and you still haven’t called it in?”
But those are not all of the damning details contained in the explosive Daily News report. An examination of text messages sent by Liang and his partner, Shaun Landau, showed that the two cops did not know the address of the building where they were at the time.
Finally, by entering the building and patrolling the stairwells, the pair of officers were directly violating orders from their unit commander.
The process of entering a building and patrolling the stairs and individual floors is known as a “vertical.” But because the Pink project has seen an upswing in violence recently, Deputy Inspector Manuel Iglesias ordered his patrolmen to stay outside, and only to examine the lobbies of the buildings — not to carry out verticals.
“I told them not to do verticals,” an incensed Iglesias reportedly shouted when he heard about he shooting of Akai Gurley by Liang.
According to Bratton, Liang fired his gun by accident as he opened a doorway with the weapon in one hand and a flashlight in the other. But according to an earlier report, the required police procedure in such situations is to hold the gun without placing a finger on the trigger to avoid shootings such as the one that killed Akai Gurley