NYC grand jury mulls police shooting of Akai Gurley

by Staff, |
Reverend Al Sharpton speaks about the death of Akai Gurley at the National Action Network in the Harlem borough of New York November 22, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) -- The district attorney in Brooklyn on Friday said he will convene a grand jury to consider charges against a New York police officer for the Nov. 20 fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in the stairwell of a public housing project.

The decision comes two days after a grand jury in the borough of Staten Island opted against charging a police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, during an arrest attempt for selling loose cigarettes.

The panel's decision in the Garner case triggered widespread street protests in New York and other cities.

In the Brooklyn shooting, police officials said Officer Peter Liang's gun may have discharged by accident, striking 28-year-old Akai Gurley in the chest and killing him.

Liang, a rookie police officer, was on routine patrol of a housing project known as the Pink Houses when he entered a dark stairwell at about the same time that Gurley entered from a lower floor.

The officer's gun discharged a single shot, killing Gurley, the father of a 2-year-old child.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said on Friday he would present evidence to a grand jury, adding that it was important to "get to the bottom of what happened."

"I pledge to conduct a full and fair investigation and to give the grand jury all of the information necessary to do its job," he said in a statement.

The news came just hours before Gurley's friends and family were set to gather with civil rights leaders for his wake on Friday evening.

At a news conference earlier in the day, a tearful Sylvia Palmer, Gurley's mother, demanded justice for her son.