NYPD Officer Convicted in Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Man

He's facing up to 15 years for manslaughter
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2016 7:46 PM CST

(Newser) – An NYPD officer faces 15 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter Thursday for the 2014 shooting of an unarmed man in Brooklyn, NBC New York reports. According to the New York Times, Officer Peter Liang fired his gun after opening a door into a dark stairwell while patrolling a public housing building. Liang's defense argued the shooting was an accident, and Liang claims he had his finger away from the trigger but was startled by a sound and the gun went off. The bullet bounced of a wall and struck 28-year-old Akai Gurley—a father of two—who was walking down the stairs with his girlfriend at the time. The bullet went through his heart.

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Liang—who had only graduated from the police academy a year earlier—didn't report the shot immediately. Instead, he argued with his partner about who should report it out of fear he would be fired. He was also found guilty of misconduct for not helping Gurley after realizing someone had been hit. Gurley's girlfriend says she was trying to keep her boyfriend alive as Liang stopped briefly before continuing on his way down the stairs. Liang says he was "panicking" and "shocked." He also claims he got bad training at the police academy and didn't feel comfortable performing CPR. Liang received oxygen as he was transported to the hospital for a ringing in his ears. His sentencing is scheduled for April. According to the Times, it's rare for officers in New York to even be put on trial for a death in the line of duty, let alone to be found guilty. (Read more police shooting stories.)

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