NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Jury selection began Wednesday in the trial against a rookie NYPD officer who shot an unarmed man inside a housing project.
Officer Peter Liang has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and other charges in connection with the shooting death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley on Nov. 20, 2014.
Investigators said Liang and his partner were going into a stairwell from the eighth floor of the Pink Houses public housing complex in East New York while Gurley and a friend were going down the stairs from the seventh floor when the shooting happened.
According to investigators, Liang was holding his flashlight and his gun when he fired a single round in the pitch black stairwell. he bullet bounced off a wall before striking Gurley.
Gurley was taken to Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Court papers said Liang stood in a hallway arguing with his partner about who should call their supervisor to report gunshot, unaware he had struck Gurley.
Liang’s lawyers have indicated he’ll take the witness stand to say the shooting was an accident.
But prosecutors argue Liang shouldn’t have had his finger on the trigger of his gun. They also said Liang didn’t call an ambulance after Gurley was shot.
A jury could hear opening statements on Monday.
The NYPD placed the officer on modified desk duty after the shooting and stripped him of his gun.
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