New York Police Department (NYPD) officer Peter Liang waited nearly 20 minutes to report the shooting of Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old black man who was killed when Liang’s weapon discharged on November 20 in an unlit stairwell in Brooklyn, according to a prosecution motion released by the Brooklyn Supreme Court last week.
Officer Liang fatally shot Gurley, who was unarmed, while conducting a “vertical patrol” with his partner Shaun Landau in the Louis H. Pink Houses. Vertical patrols are an NYPD tactic in which officers walk up or down the stairways of public housing buildings. Liang conducted the patrol with his gun drawn and claims his weapon went off accidentally.
A grand jury indicted Liang on February 10 of second-degree manslaughter and lesser offenses. Last week Judge Danny K. Chun denied a motion by Liang’s lawyers to the dismiss charges. His trial date will be decided on September 29.
The prosecution’s document, which includes evidence presented to the grand jury, exposes the disregard shown by Liang and his partner Landau for Gurley’s life. After shooting him, neither Liang nor Landau checked on his condition. Landau “had heard the sound of running footsteps in the stairwell,” according to his grand jury testimony, but did not investigate what happened to the individual subsequently.
Instead, the officers bickered about who should call their superior officers. During this time, Gurley and his girlfriend, Melissa Butler, ran down several flights of stairs before Gurley collapsed due to his injury. Butler then knocked on apartment doors before being able to borrow a cordless phone from a resident to call 911.
An Emergency Medical Services operator gave instructions to Butler on how to administer CPR to Gurley, who had stopped breathing. Butler had no prior training in CPR. According to the document, at one point Liang and Landau—who both are trained to administer CPR—walked around Gurley and Butler, and did not try to assist her. Liang finally radioed for help, after witnessing Butler giving chest compressions to Gurley.