“City police often conduct “vertical patrols” inside public housing by going from roofs down staircases that sometimes are havens for crime. Police Commissioner William Bratton has said the patrols are needed, and the development where Gurley was shot had recently seen a shooting, robberies and assaults.
Officer Peter Liang and his partner, also new to the force, were patrolling a pitch-dark stairwell with flashlights late Thursday, police said. Gurley, 28, was leaving his girlfriend’s apartment after she had braided his hair, according to the girlfriend, who is not his daughter’s mother.
Police said the officers walked down the stairs onto an eighth-floor landing when Gurley and his girlfriend opened a stairwell door one floor down, after giving up on waiting for an elevator. Police said Liang, patrolling with his gun drawn, fired without a word and apparently by accident, hitting Gurley from a distance of about 10 feet.”
Akai Gurley, Unarmed Man, Shot By NYPD
“Before the shooting, Mr. Gurley, had been on his way up in life, friends said. Childhood hopes of a music career were behind him, his good looks brought modeling work, and his determination had recently landed him something more steady after several months of searching: a job offer from the city housing authority.
He told friends that he was relieved to have a reliable paycheck to help provide for his 2-year-old daughter, Akaila, and her mother, Kimberly Michelle Ballinger.
“He was happy that he was about to go to work, he was relieved,” said Mr. Dente Crosby, 28, a friend of several years.
He was a familiar face around the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn where he lived with his daughter and her mother. Rose Quintana, 48, who lived in Mr. Gurley’s building there for six years, said she was on good terms with the mother of his daughter.
She added that a few years ago, the building was filthy and home to delinquents whom she worked with housing authority officials to oust. Though she did not know Mr. Gurley well, she appreciated him for never causing trouble.
“The problems that we had in this building was never that young man,” she said of Mr. Gurley.
Still, his life took him between two of New York City’s more dangerous pockets: his home in the Red Hook Houses and the Pink Houses in East New York where Ms. Butler lived. Mr. Gurley, known by his nickname “Bless,” had in recent years shied away from the streets, acquaintances said.
William J. Bratton, the New York police commissioner, said that the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by a police officer in Brooklyn Thursday was accidental and that the victim was a “total innocent.”
“He was getting it all together,” said a woman who knew Mr. Gurley but requested anonymity because she did not want to be connected to the case. “He was becoming an actor, he was going to school for modeling and he was going to work for the city,” she said.”
In Brooklyn, 2 Young Men, a Dark Stairwell and a Gunshot
“A Staten Island grand jury has voted not to bring criminal charges against the white New York City police officer at the center of the Eric Garner case, a person briefed on the matter said Wednesday.
The decision was reached on Wednesday after months of testimony including from the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who used a chokehold to restrain Mr. Garner, who died after a confrontation. It came less than two weeks after a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., declined to bring charges against a white officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.”
“Grand juries determine whether enough evidence exists for a case to go forward to a criminal trial, either before a jury or a judge. By law, they operate in secret and hear only evidence presented by prosecutors, who also instruct the grand jurors on the law. Defense attorneys are barred from speaking. For a decision, 12 jurors who have heard all the evidence must agree.”
“The case exposed lapses in police tactics – chokeholds are banned by the Police Department’s own guidelines – and raised questions about the aggressive policing of minor offenses in a time of historically low crime. The officers, part of a plainclothes unit, suspected Mr. Garner of selling loose cigarettes on the street near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, a complaint among local business owners.
Mr. Garner’s death hastened an effort to retrain all the department’s patrol officers and brought scrutiny on how officers who violate its rules are disciplined. Officer Pantaleo has been stripped of his gun and badge.
It was unclear whether Officer Pantaleo would return to enforcement duties. He still faces potential punishment from the Police Department, including possible termination.”
Protests After Grand Jury in Eric Garner Chokehold Case Doesn’t Indict Officer
In July, New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo choked unarmed black man Eric Garner to death, in broad daylight, while a bystander caught it on video. That is what American police do. Yesterday, despite the video, despite an NYPD prohibition of exactly the sort of chokehold Pantaleo used, and despite the New York City medical examiner ruling the death a homicide, a Staten Island grand jury declined even to indict Pantaleo. That is what American grand juries do.
In August, Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown to death in broad daylight. That is what American police do. Ten days ago, despite multiple eyewitness accounts and his own face contradicting Wilson’s narrative of events, a grand jury declined to indict Wilson. That is what American grand juries do.
In November 2006, a group of five New York police officers shot unarmed black man Sean Bell to death in the early morning hours of his wedding day. That is what American police do. In April 2008, despite multiple eyewitness accounts contradicting the officers’ accounts of the incident, Justice Arthur J. Cooperman acquitted the officers of all charges, including reckless endangerment. That is what American judges do.
In February of 1999, four plainclothes New York police officers shot unarmed black man Amadou Diallo to death outside of his home. That is what American police do. A year later, an Albany jury acquitted the officers of all charges, including reckless endangerment. That is what American juries do.
In November of 1951, Willis McCall, the sheriff of Lake County, Fla., shot and killed Sam Shepherd, an unarmed and handcuffed black man in his custody. That is what American police do. Despite both a living witness and forensic evidence which contradicted his version of events, a coroner’s inquest ruled that McCall had acted within the line of duty, and Judge Thomas Futch declined to convene a grand jury at all.
The American justice system is not broken. This is what the American justice system does. This is what America does.
Deadspin, The American Justice System Is Not Broken