NYC police shoot and kill innocent unarmed man

A rookie New York City police officer shot and killed an unarmed 28-year-old man in a darkened stairwell in Brooklyn late Thursday night, according to the police. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/22/nyregion/new-york-police-officer-fatally-shoots-brooklyn-man.html?ref=nyregion
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the shooting appeared to be unprovoked.
“We don’t know enough yet, but it does appear to be an accident,” the mayor said at a news conference on Friday. “This is a tragedy.”
The victim was identified as Akai Gurley, and the officer, Peter Liang, has been placed on modified assignment and was relieved of both his badge and gun. Police Commissioner William J. Bratton called the shooting “an unfortunate
accident.” Mr. Gurley “was a total innocent,” Mr. Bratton said. He was not engaged in
any activity other than trying to walk down the stairs, Mr. Bratton said. Officer Liang, who was on the job less than 18 months, and his partner were
patrolling the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York when they encountered Mr. Gurley inside a nearly pitch-black stairwell shortly before midnight, Mr. Bratton said.
Officer Liang drew his flashlight and his gun as he entered the stairwell on the eighth floor.
At the same time, Mr. Gurley and his girlfriend had just entered the stairwell
on the seventh floor. “One officer discharged one round from his service weapon, striking the male
in the chest,” according to a statement from the police. Mr. Gurley was taken to Brookdale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Janice Butler, whose sister was with Mr. Gurley at the time of the shooting,
said that the victim had been in an apartment on the eighth floor getting his hair braided for several hours Thursday night.
Mr. Gurley did not live in the building and left the apartment with his girlfriend shortly after 11 p.m. The two initially went to the elevator but it was taking too long, so they decided to take the stairs.
The girlfriend entered the stairwell first and heard a door open nearby. The next sound she heard was a shot echoing through the stairwell. Then she saw her boyfriend, shot in the chest, staggering down two flights of stairs.
Ms. Butler said that, according to her sister, the police did not identify themselves, or give any commands.
“The cop didn’t present himself, he just shot him in the chest,” Ms. Butler said. “They didn’t see their face or nothing.”
She added, “They didn’t say anything.”
Ms. Butler, whose cheeks were streaked with tears, said her sister was in the building and grieving and was unable to speak to reporters.
The stairwell at the housing projects is so dark at night that anyone standing in it appears as a silhouette, according to residents.
The stairwells are fitted with fluorescent lights, they said, but the burned out bulbs are seldom replaced, and the few that work are dim.
Mattie Dubose, a resident, yelled at the building superintendent Friday morning, as employees of the New York City Housing Authority furiously worked on the stairwells.
“You see how dark our staircases are? This is ridiculous,” she said. “The staircases from eight down are dark. If you want to walk in them, you need an escort.”
The Police Department is still dealing with the fallout over the death of Eric Garner, who died after a confrontation with the police on Staten Island in July.
Mr. Garner, who was unarmed and being arrested on charges of illegally selling cigarettes on a street corner, died after being placed in a chokehold by a police officer trying to wrestle him to the ground. A grand jury on Staten Island is deciding whether or not charges should be
brought against any of the officers involved. But the episode has raised questions about the use of force by the police and
led the commissioner to call for sweeping reforms. About a month after Mr. Garner’s death, the shooting of an unarmed black
teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., sparked violent protests and prompted a national discussion over police tactics. With a grand jury expected to decide in coming days whether to indict the officer in that shooting, residents there remain on edge, so much so that the National Guard has already been called in to quell any unrest.
“I think when people see a tragedy, of course it pains them and it reminds us that we have a lot of work to do,” Mr. de Blasio said. Still, he said each of the recent deaths involving the police, from Staten Island to Ferguson, had its own dynamics and he warned against linking them all together.
The shooting on Thursday in Brooklyn, he said, appeared to be a “tragic mistake.”
Charles Barron, a former New York City councilman who was recently elected to the State Assembly, arrived at the Brooklyn building Friday morning to speak with residents, and said it would take more than apology to ease the concerns of the community.
“People are outraged, this is happening all over the country, people have no respect for black life,” he said. “I want to hear the justification for this one. We’re going to fight for justice with this one just like they are in Ferguson.”

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