Update: Shooting Death of Akai Gurley by NYPD Officer Ruled a Homicide

Update: Shooting Death of Akai Gurley by NYPD Officer Ruled a Homicide

An unarmed man was shot and killed by a police officer late Thursday night at a housing project in Brooklyn, New York.

Published November 24, 2014

Update, Nov. 24, 2014, 1:30 p.m.

The tragic shooting death of Akai Gurley, 28, in a dark stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project by rookie NYPD police officer Peter Liang, has been ruled a homicide, according to the New York City Medical Examiner’s office.

Gurley succumbed to a gunshot wound in his torso. 

On Saturday night, community leaders, residents of the Housing Authority's Louis Heaton Pink Houses and other supporters gathered outside of the 75th precinct police station to call for Liang's arrest and for the NYPD to do a full investigation into the incident. Councilman Charles Barron spoke at the rally. “Killer cops must go,” he shouted, according to the Daily News. “Shut this city down!”

At a press conference early Saturday, Rev. Al Sharpton stood with the family of Gurley. "We're not demonizing the police," Sharpton said, according to the Associated Press, but "this young man should not be dead."

The civil rights unit within the Brooklyn district attorney’s office is investigating the case. 


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An unarmed man was shot and killed by a NYPD officer late Thursday night at a housing project building in Brooklyn, New York.

At a press conference Friday morning, NYPD Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said that Akai Gurley, 28, was a "total innocent" and that incident appears to be "a tragedy." Police are still investigating the incident.

Gurley and his girlfriend, Melissa Butler, entered the stairwell of the eighth floor where the officers "confronted him." One officer fired a round from their gun that struck Gurley in the chest, according to the New York Times. He later staggered several flights of steps before collapsing. 

According to the sister of Gurley's girlfriend, the Times reports, the officers did not identify themselves or give any commands to Gurley before firing a shot. “The cop didn’t present himself, he just shot him in the chest,” Janice Butler said, according to the Times. “They didn’t see their face or nothing.”

Gurley, who did not live in the building, was visiting and getting his hair braided for several hours before he and his girlfriend decided to leave. After a building elevator was taking too long, they decided to walk down the stairs. 

The lights in the stairwell of the building are dim and the ones that have went out are normally not replaced, residents say. 

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(Photo: AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Written by Natelege Whaley

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