Wrong place at the wrong time. An unarmed 28 year old man was shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn New York last Thursday, and initial reports say it may be an accidental discharge. Police say it was just an 'unfortunate tragedy' because he wasn't engaged in any criminal activity.
The victim, Akai Gurley, (pictured above) had been visiting his girlfriend’s apartment in the Brooklyn housing projects. The couple later tried to take the elevator as they were about to leave her place but it seemed the elevator wasn't working, so they decided to take the stairs.
It was in the stairwell that Gurley was hit by gunshot from a nervous rookie police officer doing a routine check of the building.
HuffPo reports the incident thus;
The fatal police shooting of an unarmed man in Brooklyn Thursday night appears to have been an "unfortunate tragedy," New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said Friday.
The victim, Akai Gurley, 28, had spent the evening at his girlfriend’s apartment inside the Louis Pink housing projects, Bratton told reporters at a press conference. The couple left the seventh floor apartment around 11:15 p.m. and tried to take an elevator down to the bottom floor. When the elevator wouldn’t work, they entered the stairwell.
Two officers, meanwhile, were conducting a vertical patrol -- also known as a top to bottom patrol -- inside the building. Upon entering the "dark" stairwell on the eighth floor, Bratton said, Officer Peter Liang drew his gun and flashlight as a safety precaution. That's when Gurley and his girlfriend -- identified by the New York Daily News as Melissa Butler -- also entered the stairwell.
At that moment, Liang fired one round from the eighth floor landing. Gurley, who was on the seventh floor landing, was struck in the chest.
The wounded man and his girlfriend then ran down the stairs before Gurley collapsed on the fifth floor. Under instructions from a 911 operator, Butler then tried to administer first aid. Gurley was transported to Brookdale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said that according to a preliminary investigation, "it appears this may have been an accidental discharge." Gurley "was not engaged in any criminal activity of any type. He didn’t do nothing wrong. He was just standing there and they shot him. He was an innocent man.” Bratton said.
Liang, Bratton said, has been on the force less than 18 months and was on probationary assignment to the housing bureau. Liang and the other officer were taken to the hospital to be treated for tinnitus, which is a ringing noise inside the ears, often caused by gunfire.
Bratton said he talked Friday morning to Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, who's investigating the incident. NYPD Internal Affairs is also investigating.
So sad and unfortunate for all concerned.