NYPD cop Peter Liang guilty in fatal shooting of Akai Gurley
The rookie NYPD cop who gunned down innocent and unarmed Akai Gurley in a Brooklyn housing project was convicted Thursday of manslaughter.
Exactly one year ago, I wrote a blog about this when Officer Liang was indicted:
A grand jury got one right.
I’m not sure I could take another grand jury telling us our lives aren’t even worth a trial. I’m so relieved this one got it right.
Last November, Officer Liang was on a routine patrol with another officer through an apartment building in East New York when Akai Gurley and a friend stepped into the stairwell on a higher floor. Liang fired his weapon in the dark stairwell, killing Gurley. Liang maintains that he was holding a flashlight with one hand, a gun in the other hand, and when he used the hand holding the gun to open the door, it accidentally went off. Liang’s friends and family say the officer has been a recluse since the incident as the shooting really shook him up.
And now we have a conviction. Two things I’ve learned from this case:
1) If you shoot a wall and the bullet hits someone by accident, you have a better chance of being convicted. If you actually shoot someone on purpose, you can claim you were afraid for your life. Liang accidentally fired his weapon and it ricocheted. That’s probably the only reason there’s a conviction.
2) Liang was convicted of manslaughter, but some judge will probably overturn it. The last time a NYPD officer was convicted of killing someone was in 2003 when Officer Bryan Conroy was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide. He shot Ousmane Zongo after a raid on a Chelsea warehouse when Zongo – who spoke little English and was innocent of any crimes – tried to run. He was cornered and shot in the back, but at a second trial, Conroy was given five years’ probation and the city (ie, taxpayers like you and I) paid the family $3 million.
But at least we got a conviction. For the first time in 13 years, a cop has been convicted in NYC after killing someone. Pardon me for not jumping up and down with glee.