Peter Liang is the rookie NYPD officer who shot and killed Akai Gurley while on an unapproved stairwell patrol in the Louis H. Pink housing project late last year, adding Gurley to the long list of unarmed black men whose lives were taken away from them because they scared a police officer, and whose deaths are handled in the coldest of fashions: Liang killed Gurley out of "jitters," texted his union representative while his victim bled out, and waited more than six and a half minutes before radioing for help or responding to his commanding officer.
Who knows why Liang was indicted while, say, Daniel Pantaleo was not? (I do have my guesses.) Regardless, as per the New York Times, he is the first New York City cop to be indicted in more than two years for a "fatal on-duty encounter." Liang is up on six counts: according to the New York Post, "second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault, reckless endangerment, and two counts of official misconduct."
The NYPD has suggested that Liang's gunshot could have been accidental, but Brooklyn D.A. Kenneth Thompson refutes that claim. Thompson will have to prove that Liang "understood the danger he posed by using his service weapon to open a door in the stairwell"—goodness—and disregarded it in a "substantive and unjustifiable" way. Details from the indictment have set the scene like this: Gurley had been waiting for an elevator with his girlfriend and then decided to take the stairs, and Liang shot him from above, firing with his gun aimed down the dark stairwell. The shot ricocheted off a wall and hit Gurley in the chest.
On Wednesday, Liang pled not guilty to everything and was released without bail.
And in the meantime, thousands of people arrested for misdemeanors in New York City every year have to post bail of $500 and more, and because they often can't afford that, they are incarcerated, and it continues to cost taxpayers $9 billion annually to imprison defendants held on bail.
Image via AP.