The death of an unarmed Brooklyn father who was shot by a rookie NYPD police officer in an apartment stairwell has been ruled a homicide.
Akai Gurley, 28, and his girlfriend walked into a darkened stairwell of the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York around 11:15pm on Thursday November 20. Their movement startled Officer Peter Liang, who was patrolling the housing stairwells with his partner.
According to an internal report obtained by the New York Post: “almost instantly, Officer Liang discharged his service weapon one time directly outward.”
Liang fired a single shot from the landing above the couple, which struck Gurley in the chest. Gurley’s girlfriend, Melissa Butler, tried to administer first aid, according to authorities.
The report also states that after firing his weapon, Liang told his partner: “I think I’m going to get fired.”
Gurley later died at Brookdale hospital in eastern Brooklyn.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Gurley’s death to be a homicide on Sunday.
“His death resulted in whole from actions of another person, not from natural causes like disease,” the medical examiner’s office said in a statement.
The lethal shot was “an accidental discharge,” according to police officials. After the shooting, Liang radioed to his supervisors to alert them to the shooting.
The medical examiner’s decision came soon after Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson stated he would be launching a full investigation of Gurley’s death.
The ruling also came a day before a highly charged decision from a St. Louis Grand Jury to not indict a Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Liang, 27, is still on modified duty. NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is also investigating the incident.
Neither the union nor the NYPD has released an official statement on the medical examiner’s ruling.