A man was fatally shot in the chest by an NYPD officer in the stairwell of a public housing project in East New York last night. The NYPD has not said whether the victim, 28-year-old Akai Gurley, was armed, but police sources tell the tabloids he was unarmed. [UPDATE HERE: NYPD Commissioner Bratton says the man was unarmed and the death was an "unfortunate accident."]
Police say they were conducting a "vertical patrol" inside the Pink Houses at 2724 Linden Boulevard when the shooting occurred at approximately 11:15 p.m. Officers were descending a "dimly lit stairwell" when they say they "encountered a 28-year-old male who entered the stairwell at the seventh floor."
One officer fired one round at Gulrey, hitting him in the chest. EMS took him to Brookdale Hospital, where he was pronounced DOA. The investigation is ongoing, and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced a press conference this morning to discuss the shooting.
According to the NY Post, the officer is a rookie, and the victim was unarmed and had just entered the darkened stairwell with his girlfriend moments before he was shot. “He didn’t do nothing wrong," Melissa Butler, Gurley's girlfriend, told the Daily News. "He was just standing there and they shot him. He was an innocent man. They didn't give no explanation. They didn't identify themselves. They just started shooting."
One resident described the building's stairwells as "frightening," telling CBS 2, "That staircase has been dark for a long time. NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) never makes the repairs that they need to, so it was dark. They may have followed this young man into the building — I don’t know what the situation was, but how could they see what was going on? It’s dark from the roof down to the seventh floor."