Akai Gurley 28, Nov. 20, 2014 Brooklyn NY – Gurley, had spent the evening at his girlfriend Melissa Butler’s apartment. The couple left the seventh floor apartment and tried to take an elevator down to the bottom floor. When the elevator wouldn’t work, they entered the stairwell. Two officers, meanwhile, were conducting a vertical patrol, also known as a top to bottom patrol inside the building. Upon entering the “dark” stairwell on the eighth floor, Officer Peter Liang drew his gun and flashlight as a safety precaution. That’s when Gurley and Ms. Butler also entered the stairwell. At that moment, Liang, , without identifying themselves fired one round from the eighth floor landing. Gurley, who was on the seventh floor landing, was struck in the chest. Gurley and Butler then ran down the stairs before Gurley collapsed on the fifth floor. After the shooting, the officers retreated back from where they came and the couple made their way downstairs, officials admitted. Gurley stopped on the fifth floor while Butler continued down to the fourth floor, where she asked neighbors to call 911. Under instructions from a 911 operator, Butler then tried to administer first aid. Gurley was transported to Brookdale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Ms. Bulter said “They didn’t identify themselves.” “No nothing. They didn’t give no explanation. They just pulled a gun and shot him in the chest.” New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said according to a preliminary investigation, “it appears this may have been an accidental discharge.” Gurley “was not engaged in any criminal activity of any type.” Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, who’s investigating the incident. NYPD Internal Affairs is also investigating. Murdered by NYPD Officer Peter Liang
In the six and a half minutes after Peter Liang discharged a single bullet that struck Gurley, 28, he and his partner couldn’t be reached. And instead of calling for help for the dying man, Liang was texting his union representative. What’s more, the pair of officers weren’t supposed to be patrolling the stairways of the Pink Houses that night.
While Akai Gurley was dying in a darkened stairwell at a Brooklyn housing development, the cop who fired the fatal bullet was texting his union representative.
Right after rookie cop Peter Liang discharged a single bullet that struck Gurley, 28, he and his partner Shaun Landau were incommunicado for more than six and a half minutes.
“That’s showing negligence,” said a law enforcement source of the pair’s decision to text their union rep before making a radio call for help.
“The guy is dying and you still haven’t called it in?”
To make things even worse, the officers were uncertain of the exact address of the building in the Pink Houses they were in, according to their text messages.
The explosive details of the immediate aftermath following the shooting of Gurley are at the center of an investigation by Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson — who is poised to present evidence to a grand jury as early as the end of this month.
The two cops involved weren’t supposed to be patrolling the Pink Houses’ stairways that night, sources say.
Adding to the tragedy surrounding Gurley’s death, the officers involved were not supposed to be doing a patrol in the stairways.
Deputy Inspector Miguel Iglesias, then the head officer of the local housing command, ordered them not to carry out such patrols, known as verticals.
He opted instead for exterior policing in response to a spate of violence at the East New York housing project.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton characterized the incident as an “unfortunate tragedy” and an accident. Officials said Liang was holding a flashlight in his right hand and a Glock 9-mm. in the other when he opened the door to the eighth-floor landing.
One bullet flew out and apparently ricocheted into the chest of Gurley, who was on the seventh-floor landing and taking the stairs with his girlfriend Melissa Butler, 27.
The victim stumbled down to the fifth floor and Butler knocked on a woman’s door on the fourth floor, pleading for help. That woman called 911.
When Liang and Landau finally resurfaced on the radio, they reported an accidental discharge, added the source. Authorities have said they didn’t immediately know anyone was struck with the bullet.
The stairwell was pitch-black because the lights were out. The superintendent had asked NYCHA to fix the lights months before the fatal encounter. The problem was finally resolved hours after Gurley died.
While the shooting may have been a mishap, the cops’ subsequent conduct can amount to criminal liability, court insiders said.
“I would be surprised if it is not at least presented to a grand jury,” said Kenneth Montgomery, a lawyer for Gurley’s parents. “It’s a debacle and it speaks of criminal negligence.”
DA Thompson had called the shooting “deeply troubling” and promised “an immediate, fair and thorough investigation.”
A spokeswoman for his office had no comment Thursday. The NYPD also declined comment.