Accidental discharge or excessive force in New York City? Last year, Akai Gurley, an unarmed 28-year old man, was fatally shot by NYPD officer Peter Liang. The shooting occurred in the stairwell of the Louis H. Pink Houses in Brooklyn. The NYPD just recently announced that Officer Liang had been indicted – a dramatic U-turn from their original ruling that the shooting was a tragic “accidental discharge.” They have suspended Officer Liang without pay and taken his shield and gun for the duration of their investigation.
Critics wonder if Liang, who was a rookie still within his probationary period, lacked the experience needed to be carrying a loaded firearm. He had less than 18 months on the force and was patrolling “one of the most dangerous housing projects in New York City,” according to Patrick Lynch, head of the police union.
Kimberly Ballinger, Gurley’s girlfriend and the mother of his young child, who was in the stairwell at the time Gurley was shot, says that the shooting was clearly a case of “wrongful and reckless shooting.”
One damning detail has surfaced in police reports: Officer Liang was descending the darkened stairwell with another officer when he drew his flashlight and his service pistol for “safety reasons”. The other officer with Liang kept his sidearm holstered the whole time. If he drew his weapon only as a precaution, what made him fire his weapon?
Both Commissioner Bratton and Mayor de Blasio have called the shooting a tragic accident but have also stated that whenever an NYPD officer draws his weapon he must be able to provide unequivocal justification for doing so.
Regardless of the outcome of a criminal case, Gurley’s domestic partner son could have justification for a wrongful death lawsuit against the NYPD.
If you or a loved one has been injured by any NYPD officer, contact a New York City excessive force attorney to discuss the legal options available to you. Call the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel for a free consultation at (800) 734-9338 or (212) 385-1122 to learn your rights.