Rookie NYPD officer Peter Liang, who gunned down unarmed Akai Gurley in the darkened stairwell of a Brooklyn public housing project, was found guilty of manslaughter late Thursday, reports the New York Daily News.
Liang faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced later this year. News of the verdict spread rapidly across social media mostly because it represents a shift in court decisions in police brutality cases that usually land on the side of police, prompting complaints that justice was not delivered to the families of the slain.
The Daily News reports:
The rookie NYPD cop who gunned down innocent and unarmed Akai Gurley in a Brooklyn housing project was convicted Thursday of the top count of manslaughter.
He faces up to 15 years behind bars when he’s sentenced later this year.
The shocking verdict was a powerful message from the jury that the public’s opinion on police killings has radically changed in the wake of Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Michael Brown and other tragedies around the country.
Liang is due to be sentenced on April 14.
Gurley was walking in an unlit stairwell with his friend, Melissa Butler, on November 20, 2014 when Liang and his partner were patrolling the Pink Houses projects. Liang, a rookie at the time, testified in court that he was “startled” by noise in the stairwell and his service weapon went off. A bullet bounced off a wall and struck Gurley in the chest.
Liang and partner Shaun Landau failed to administer care to a dying Gurley, with Liang rendered impaired by shock, according to Landau’s testimony. Landau also testified that he and Liang did not receive adequate CPR training from the department despite their role as public servants.
The last NYPD officer convicted in the death of a civilian was undercover officer Bryan Conroy. He was convicted of criminally negligent homicide in 2005 for the 2003 shooting death Ousmane Zongo inside a New York warehouse. Conroy did not serve prison time, but lost his job with the NYPD and served five years of probation, according to the New York Times coverage of the case.