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NYPD Officer Indicted For Killing Akai Gurley in November Shooting, According to Media Reports

Akai Gurley
Akai Gurley

Media outlets are reporting that New York police officer Peter Liang has been indicted by a grand jury in the shooting death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley.

Both NY1 and The New York Daily News reported that Liang has been brought up on charges, though a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said the office was precluded by the secrecy of the grand jury process from confirming the reports.

It would be yet another stark illustration of the difference between grand juries in Brooklyn and Staten Island, where a grand jury declined to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. Staten Island is 73 percent white and just 11 percent Black and is a place where many cops and their families reside, meaning grand jurors are much more likely to be police supporters. In contrast, Brooklyn is 34 percent Black, which means Black people are much more likely to be on a grand jury and likely would have had some negative encounters with members of the NYPD, or know someone who has.

After Gurley was killed on Nov. 20 inside a darkened stairwell of the Louis Pink housing project in East New York, Commissioner William Bratton initially characterized the shooting as an “accidental discharge.” But soon afterwards, Brooklyn DA Thompson announced that he was convening a grand jury to investigate Gurley’s death.

In December, when Gurley’s family and friends of Gurley gathered for his funeral, his mother, Sylvia Palmer, told NY1, “There’s nothing in this world that can heal my pain and my heartache and I pray to God that I get justice for my son because my son didn’t deserve to die like that.”

Liang would be the fourth cop indicted by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office in the last three months. Last week officer Joel Edouard, 36, who is Black, was indicted after he was caught on video stomping Jahmiel Cuffee in the head on July 23 during an encounter in Bed-Stuy.

The two previous indictments came in November, when Thompson went after two officers who were captured on surveillance video punching and pistol-whipping a teen, Kahreem Tribble. Those assault cases are still pending; one of them carries a felony charge.

Across the nation, indictments against police officers are exceedingly rare. Brooklyn DA Thompson, who was born, raised and educated in New York City, may have a unique window into the culture and attitudes of the NYPD because his mother was one of the first female police officers to patrol the streets of New York.

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