I would be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised by the news that NYPD Officer Peter Liang was indicted yesterday for manslaughter after shooting and killing an unarmed man named Akai Gurley in an apartment stairwell on November 20th of last year. If it matters, and naturally it shouldn’t, Gurley was black. However, with the recent attention paid to the killing of black Americans by members of the NYPD, it’s worth mentioning.
Liang is a rookie officer (on a probationary period of 18 months) who claimed that he accidentally shot Akai when his gun discharged as he was patrolling the apartment stairwells – something police are not supposed to be doing according to sources. From the NY Daily News:
Liang discharged one bullet when patrolling the stairways of the Pink Houses in East New York, striking the 28-year-old Gurley in the chest as the man stood in the landing a floor below next to his girlfriend.
The probationary officer, who’s been on the force for less than 18 months, was allegedly holding a flashlight in one hand and clutched a 9-mm Glock in his left hand, which he also used to open a door when the gun fired.
The News reported that Liang and his partner did not answer the radio in the six-plus minutes right after the shooting and instead texted their union delegates.
It’s amazing that an officer can be caught on camera literally using an illegal choke hold to essentially murder a man who was doing nothing wrong at the time and get off scot-free, and yet this officer gets indicted. And I’m not saying that Liang shouldn’t have been indicted – I’m just merely pointing out how odd the two circumstances are when compared to each other.
On some level I wonder if this is a “make-up” indictment, and by that I mean I don’t know if this would have gone the same way were it prior to the Eric Garner case, considering the “accidental” firing, apparent lack of motive, and lack of any hard video evidence. It’s an encouraging sign that perhaps things are changing and police who abuse their power, intentionally or not, will face judgement.
Either way, it certainly seems warranted that this will go to trial. Liang’s actions – from being on premises without reason, to walking around with gun drawn with no apparent cause, to “accidentally” discharging his weapon and killing a man all seem to add up to something that demands deeper investigation in a public court of law.
Liang is expected to turn himself in Wednesday morning.
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Obamacare costs are rising, not lowering