The rookie cop with the New York Police department who killed a black man last November gives a tearful account of the incident, saying he “broke down” when the incident happened.
Officer Peter Liang said during the Monday testimony in the State Supreme Court that he was shocked after he shot Akai Gurley, who was just passing by in a dark stairwell of a building in Brooklyn on November 20, 2015.
Liang, who is charged with manslaughter and other offences, said he “just couldn’t believe someone was hit” after his bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit the 28-year-old African American who happened to be walking down the stairwell with his girlfriend at the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York.
Neither Liang nor his partner, Shaun Landau, tried to help the man bleeding on the landing of the fifth floor.
“I leaned over him in a puddle of blood and urine,” said Gurley’s girlfriend, Melissa Butler. “I was telling him to stay with me, I am getting him help. It was a soft voice.”
Asked by a defense lawyer to recount the incident, the rookie police officer said he had seen bullet holes on the roof, which made him “feel the need to take my gun out.”
“I heard something on my left side; it was a quick sound and it just startled me, and the gun just went off after I tensed up,” he said while struggling to remain calm.
“I said, ‘Oh my god, someone is hit… I went over the radio, ‘Pink Post One, male shot, call a bus,’” he said, adding, “Everything just sunk in, I was thinking about everything that happened.
Transcripts from radio calls, however, show no evidence attesting that he called for an ambulance.
Lieutenant Vitaliy Zelikov, one of the first people to arrive on the scene, said in a testimony earlier that Liang “was staring into space, staring upward at the fifth floor.”
“I took the officer out of the stairwell and into the hallway,” Zelikov said. “He was shaken up, he was pale, he became unsteady on his feet… I had to sit him down.”
The black man, who has a two year-old daughter, was unarmed when the officer opened fire.
Liang could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of official misconduct.