NEW YORK — A rookie police officer who fired into a darkened stairwell at a Brooklyn public housing complex, accidentally killing a man who had been waiting for an elevator, has been indicted in his death, a lawyer said Tuesday.
Officer Peter Liang will appear in court Wednesday in the November shooting death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley, according to Scott Rynecki, an attorney representing Gurley’s family. Grand jury proceedings are kept secret. It wasn’t clear what charges were considered; they could range from misdemeanor official misconduct to manslaughter, a felony.
Patrick J. Lynch, head of Liang’s police union, said he deserves due process.
“The fact that he was assigned to patrol one of the most dangerous housing projects in New York City must be considered among the circumstances of this tragic accident,” Lynch said.
The indictment follows mass protests and calls for reform of the grand jury system nationwide after the racially charged decisions not to indict officers in the deaths Eric Garner, in New Jersey, and Michael Brown, in Missouri.
Gurley was black. Liang is Asian-American.
Liang was placed on desk duty after the shooting. He will be suspended without pay after the charges are unsealed.