While the exact particulars are different, there are some striking parallels between this shooting and the unjustified killing of Tommy McClain. The Examiner believed, and still believes that a second degree murder charge was and is appropriate for Linfoot and Stephens.
A New York City police officer was indicted Tuesday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in a Brooklyn public housing complex stairwell in November, several people familiar with the grand jury’s decision said.
Officer Peter Liang, 27, who had been on the force for less than 18 months, was patrolling a darkened stairwell at the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York when he fired a single shot that fatally struck the man, , as he walked downstairs. Less than 12 hours after the shooting, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton called Mr. Gurley, 28, “totally innocent” and characterized the shooting as an “unfortunate accident.”
A grand jury impaneled last week decided it was a crime. The jurors indicted Officer Liang on several charges, including second-degree manslaughter, said a law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the indictment had yet to be unsealed. The other charges are criminally negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, second-degree assault and two counts of official misconduct, the official said.
Reform advocates and some elected officials welcomed word of the indictment. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who campaigned on improving police-community relations but who has been battered by revolts among officers, offered a more muted response.
“We urge everyone to respect the judicial process as it unfolds,” the mayor said, calling Mr. Gurley’s death “an unspeakable tragedy.”
There was no encounter or words exchanged between Officer Liang and Mr. Gurley before the fatal shot, the police said.
Officer Liang and his partner, Officer Shaun Landau, entered an eighth-floor stairwell in the Pink Houses at about 11:15 p.m. on Nov. 20. Officer Liang had his 9-millimeter gun drawn, according to the police, not uncommon for officers walking the interiors and rooftops of public housing complexes in so-called vertical patrols. His partner kept his gun holstered.
At the same time, Mr. Gurley and his girlfriend, Melissa Butler, entered the seventh-floor stairwell, 14 steps below.
According to the police account, almost as soon as Officer Liang opened the door, his gun went off. He immediately moved back onto the rooftop, the door closing in front of him and his partner. Officer Liang then uttered words to the effect that he had accidentally fired, the police said at the time, citing the partner’s account.
Ms. Butler ran from the sound, but she turned when she noticed Mr. Gurley was no longer following. She found him near a fifth-floor landing. Then she rushed to the apartment of a friend, who dialed 911.
Legal experts and former prosecutors said the case was different from that of Mr. Garner in several basic respects. For one, while officers are given broad discretion to use deadly force, the police have described Officer Liang’s actions as unintentional.
Unlike Officer Pantaleo, who took the stand on Staten Island to tell grand jurors why he moved to restrain Mr. Garner, — an encounter captured on video — Officer Liang did not take the stand in the Brooklyn case, the law enforcement official said.
“What’s he going to say?” said James A. Cohen, a law professor at Fordham University Law School and expert in criminal procedure. “ ‘It was dark; I was scared.’ That’s not going to hold up in front of a grand jury.”
In seeking a top charge of second-degree manslaughter before the grand jury, prosecutors had to demonstrate probable cause that Officer Liang was aware of the risks posed by brandishing his gun, that he consciously disregarded them and that it was “substantial and unjustifiable,” according to the penal code.
“That’s bold,” Bernard E. Harcourt, a professor at Columbia Law School, said of the manslaughter charge.
Experts said that to demonstrate probable cause for one of the lesser charges, criminally negligent homicide, prosecutors had to show only that Officer Liang failed to perceive the risks that his actions posed.
Full story here:
In the New York case, an officer made a rash decision based on an unjustified fear. That officer will now face serious charges for killing an innocent civilian. In Eureka, Tommy was killed by Officer Linfoot because of a rash decision caused by mistakes and unjustifiable fears. Unfortunately, the only avenue of justice left for the relatives of Tommy is through the Civil Court system. While the cop apologizers will cry “Payday for the greedy family”, the fact is that suing the city is the only way for the family to have any of the truth brought to light. Thank you for talking that hard step and we are confident that in the future there will be at least some “Justice for Tommy McClain”.