NYPD cop who killed unarmed Brooklyn man texted union instead of calling help
Meanwhile, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced a grand jury will consider charges against the officer responsible for the November shooting.
According to a report by the New York Daily News, these details were revealed by unnamed law enforcement sources, and paint a clearer picture of what happened the night 28-year-old Akai Gurley was killed by rookie police officer Peter Liang in the stairwell of an apartment complex.
— shrill (@theshrillest) December 5, 2014
The report states that Liang, as well as his partner Shaun Landau, did not respond to calls from their commanding officer or the emergency operator, both of whom were trying to reach them for more than six and a half minutes after a neighbor called 911 to report a shooting. Since neither Liang nor Landau reported the incident immediately, police found out about the incident through the neighbor’s call.
Instead, Liang reportedly decided to text a union representative during that time. His text messages allegedly reveal that the officers did not even know the precise address of the building they were in.
“That’s showing negligence,” an anonymous police source told the Daily News, referring to texting decision. “The guy is dying and you still haven’t called it in?”
In a statement to Buzzfeed, however, the police union denied the report:
“The Daily News story about the officer texting a union delegate does not appear to be true. We have over 400 delegates but the ones that serve the area he was working in did not receive any texts from him.”
Notably, the officer was not even supposed to be inside of the Pink Houses project when the shooting occurred, the Daily News reported. Deputy Inspector Miguel Iglesias had ordered them to maintain a street presence and only go as far as the lobby if they were to enter the buildings, sources told the newspaper. Despite this, the officers were allegedly performing inspections of the stairways.
With the news coming in the wake of grand juries deciding not to indict officers for the deaths of Staten Island man Eric Garner – who died via chokehold by police – and teenager Michael Brown from Missouri, criticism of the NYPD is sure to grow.
Gurley, who was accompanied by his girlfriend Melissa Butler, was shot once by Liang after the couple entered the staircase. The officers allegedly gave no warning before shooting Gurley in the chest, causing Butler to run to a neighbor on the fourth floor to make a 911 call.
“They didn’t present themselves or nothing and shot him,” Butler said to DNAinfo New York. “As soon as he came in, the police opened the [door to the] eighth-floor staircase. They didn’t identify themselves at all. They just shot.”
Butler also claims the police did not call the ambulance or come down the staircase to help.
Brooklyn D.A. will convene a grand jury in Akai Gurley case: http://t.co/LjefgMljn8
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) December 5, 2014
A grand jury will now take up the case and consider charges against Liang, though no timetable for a decision has been set.
“I pledge to conduct a full and fair investigation and to give the grand jury all of the information necessary to do its job,” District Attorney Thompson said in a statement.
The NYPD is also conducting an investigation into the killing. Commissioner Bill Bratton previously called Gurley innocent.
"What happened last night was a very unfortunate tragedy,'' he said last month. “The deceased is totally innocent. He just happened to be in the hallway. He was not engaged in any criminal activity.''