Over 200 protesters gathered at a rally in front of the Pink Houses and the NYPD’s 75th Precinct station house in Brooklyn yesterday to call for the arrest of the rookie cop who "accidentally" fatally shot an unarmed man this week. "Killer cops must go," Rep. Charles Barron shouted to the crowd. "Shut this city down!"
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"They are saying it was an accident, we’re saying how do we know until there is a thorough investigation?" Rev. Al Sharpton said to the crowd earlier Saturday, while flanked by victim Akai Gurley's family, including his 2-year-old daughter. "What we do know is this baby will grow up without a daddy who did nothing wrong."
"All he is, is an innocent guy walking down the stairs who was killed for no apparent reason at all, going home to his baby mother and his kids," 18-year-old Akisha Pringle, Gurley's sister, told the crowd at the Harlem headquarters of Sharpton's National Action Network.
Officer Peter Liang shot 28-year-old Gurley, whom NYPD Commissioner Bratton described as a "total innocent" at a press conference on Friday. Gurley had entered a dark stairwell with his girlfriend at the Pink Houses in East New York shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday, just as Liang and his partner were proceeding down from the landing one flight up as part of their vertical patrol. No words were exchanged between the two parties, but Liang, who was carrying a flashlight and whose gun was already drawn, fired one round, fatally striking Gurley in the chest.
"How is having your gun out with no provocation and your finger on the trigger, your safety off, an accident?" City Council Member Jumaane Williams asked yesterday. "At minimum, that sounds like criminal negligence."
In addition to the protests, the ANSWER Coalition put up "Wanted" posters for Liang around the Pink Houses reading "This is the face of a killer," and comparing him to Darren Wilson (who shot Mike Brown) and Daniel Pantaleo (who fatally choked Eric Garner). "It is the whole police force who are guilty for this," Henry Cames, a volunteer with ANSWER, told the News.
Multiple Pink House residents agreed with the sentiments: “They need to blow up that poster," 16-year-old Maggie Adams told the Post. “I might make copies and put them up myself." Michelle Lenion, 18, added to them, "He is a murderer. He killed a man, an innocent black man. They shouldn’t have sent him."
Liang's partner who was with him the night of the shooting, Officer Shaun Landau, was reportedly very shaken up by the incident: "[Landau] had a hard time walking us through the scene," a law-enforcement source told the Post. "He was very choked up and nervous, which was understandable."