Police shooting in Brooklyn housing project ruled a homicide

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Akai Gurley shot by police officer Peter Liang NYPD
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Police shooting in Brooklyn housing project ruled a homicide
FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2016 file photo, former New York City police officer Peter Liang, center, returns to the courtroom after a break in his trial on charges in the shooting death of Akai Gurley, at Brooklyn Supreme court in New York. Liang was fired from the police force shortly after the February jury verdict in the death of Gurley. Liang will find out if he's going to prison during sentencing on Tuesday, April 19, following his manslaughter conviction in the accidental shooting death of the unarmed man in a darkened stairwell. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Police officer Peter Liang reacts as the verdict is read during his trial on charges in the shooting death of Akai Gurley, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 at Brooklyn Supreme court in New York in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: New York City police officer Peter Liang (2nd L) sits in court as testimony is read back for jurors during deliberations in his trial in Brooklyn Supreme Court February 10, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Liang is on trial for the shooting death of Akai Gurley in the stairwell of a housing project in November 2014. (Photo by Byron Smith-Pool/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Akai Gurley's partner, Kimberly Ballinger, speaks at a news conference following remarks by Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson concerning the death of Gurley by a New York City police officer on February 11, 2015 in New York City. Police officer Peter Liang has been charged with manslaughter, official misconduct and other offenses following what he claims was the accidental shooting death of Gurley in a Brooklyn public housing complex last year. Liang pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the November 20 death of 28-year-old Gurley in the Pink Houses, a public housing complex in East New York. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson speaks at a news conference concerning charges in the death of Akai Gurley by a New York City police officer on February 11, 2015 in New York City. Police officer Peter Liang has been charged with manslaughter, official misconduct and other offenses following what he claims was the accidental shooting death of Gurley in a Brooklyn public housing complex last year. Liang pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the November 20 death of 28-year-old Gurley in the Pink Houses, a public housing complex in East New York. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
New York Police Department (NYPD) rookie officer Peter Liang (C) arrives at a courtroom in Brooklyn, New York, on January 20, 2016. A trial opens on January 20 of officer Liang who is accused of manslaughter over the death of an unarmed black man. Akai Gurley was 28 years old when he was fatally shot in a dimly lit stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project on November 20, 2014.Gurley's death was one of a string of shootings by police of black men under questionable circumstances, which sparked angry and at times violent protests across America in 2014 and 2015. / AFP / JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Activists guard Akai Gurley's partner, Kimberly Ballinger, as she speaks at a news conference following remarks by Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson concerning the death of Gurley by a New York City police officer on February 11, 2015 in New York City. Police officer Peter Liang has been charged with manslaughter, official misconduct and other offenses following what he claims was the accidental shooting death of Gurley in a Brooklyn public housing complex last year. Liang pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the November 20 death of 28-year-old Gurley in the Pink Houses, a public housing complex in East New York. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 6: A Man holds a banner as he demand justice during the funeral service of Akai Gurley outside of the Brown Memorial Baptist Church on December 6, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Gurley was an unarmed 28-year-old man killed by New York City police officer Peter Liang in a housing development in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn on November 20. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 6: A Funeral services worker stands next to the casket of Akai Gurley during his funeral service at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church on December 6, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Gurley was an unarmed 28-year-old man killed by New York City police officer Peter Liang in a housing development in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn on November 20. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: People attend the funeral for Akai Gurley at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church on December 5, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Gurley was an unarmed 28-year-old man killed by New York City police officer Peter Liang in a housing development in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn on November 20. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
Akai Gurley's stepfather Kenneth Palmer, right, and mother Sylvia Palmer leave the courtroom after the closing arguments in the trial of New York City Police Officer Peter Liang on charges in the shooting death of Akai Gurley, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, at Brooklyn Supreme court in New York. Jurors are scheduled to start discussing their views of Liangâs actions as soon as Tuesday. Closing arguments are expected in the morning, and deliberations are likely to begin in the afternoon. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Kenneth Palmer, stepfather of Akai Gurley, speaks outside state Supreme Court in the Brooklyn borough of New York Monday, Feb 8, 2016, after hearing NYPD Officer Peter Liang testify about Gurley's 2014 death in a housing project stairwell. Lawyers for Liang say the evidence doesn't meet legal requirements for the charges, which accuse him of disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk of serious injury or death, and have asked the judge to dismiss the case. (AP Photo/Jennifer Peltz)
Pall bearers carry the casket of Akai Gurley during his funeral at Brown Baptist Memorial Church, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Gurley was shot to death by rookie NYPD officer Peter Liang in a pitch black hallway of the Louis Pink Houses public housing complex in November. Police have described Gurley's death as an apparent accident. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Demonstrators pause outside the 75th Police Precinct during a march in protest of the shooting death of Akai Gurley by rookie NYPD officer Peter Liang at the Louis Pink Houses public housing complex, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Police have described Gurley's death as an apparent accident. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
State Assemblyman-elect Charles Barron, left, and his wife city Councilperson Inez Barron, flank Melissa Butler during a news conference outside the office of the Brooklyn District Attorney Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Barron told reporters he thinks the shooting of unarmed Akai Gurley by a New York City Police officer, in a pitch-dark stairwell of a public housing complex, warrants a charge of criminally negligent homicide. Butler was with Gurley when he was shot. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
State Assemblyman-elect Charles Barron and his wife city Councilperson Inez Barron, flank Melissa Butler, at a news conference outside the office of the Brooklyn District Attorney, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Barron told reporters he thinks the shooting of unarmed Akai Gurley by a New York City Police officer, in a pitch-dark stairwell of a public housing complex, warrants a charge of criminally negligent homicide. Butler was with Gurley when he was shot. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
A mourner places a candle at a memorial to Akai Gurley who was shot to death by rookie NYPD officer Peter Liang at the Louis Pink Houses public housing complex, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Police have described Gurley's death as an apparent accident. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Kimberly Michelle Ballinger, domestic partner of Akai Gurley, who was shot by an NYPD officer, is joined by Rev. Al Sharpton at the National Action Network in New York Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. Police have described a rookie officer's shooting of Gurley in a Brooklyn staircase Thursday as an apparent accident. Sharpton called for prosecutors to investigate thoroughly and for police to improve training and procedures. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Demonstrators chant outside the 75th Police Precinct during a march in protest of the shooting death of Akai Gurley by rookie NYPD officer Peter Liang at the Louis Pink Houses public housing complex, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Police have described Gurley's death as an apparent accident. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Police officers stand guard at the Public Service Area #2 building as demonstrators arrive in protest of the shooting death of Akai Gurley by rookie NYPD officer Peter Liang at the Louis Pink Houses public housing complex, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Police have described Gurley's death as an apparent accident. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A man hands a young girl a paper with photographs of people allegedly killed by New York Police Department officers outside of the building where a man was allegedly shot by a police officer the night before at the Louis Pink Houses public housing complex, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, in Brooklyn borough of New York. A rookie police officer with his gun drawn shot to death 28-year-old Akai Gurley, an unarmed, innocent man in the darkened stairwell of the crime-ridden public housing complex, New York City police officials said Friday. The shooting appeared to be an accident, Police Commissioner William Bratton said at a news conference. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Men gather outside of the building where a man was allegedly shot by a police officer the night before at the Louis Pink Houses public housing complex, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, in Brooklyn borough of New York. A rookie police officer with his gun drawn shot to death 28-year-old Akai Gurley, an unarmed, innocent man in the darkened stairwell of the crime-ridden public housing complex, New York City police officials said Friday. The shooting appeared to be an accident, Police Commissioner William Bratton said at a news conference. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A man who identified himself as a detective with the district attorney's office inspects the area in a stairwell where a man was allegedly shot by a police officer the night before at the Louis Pink Houses public housing complex, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, in Brooklyn borough of New York. A rookie police officer with his gun drawn shot to death 28-year-old Akai Gurley, an unarmed, innocent man in the darkened stairwell of the crime-ridden public housing complex, New York City police officials said Friday. The shooting appeared to be an accident, Police Commissioner William Bratton said at a news conference. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A woman reads a paper with photographs of people allegedly killed by New York City Police officers outside of the building where a man was allegedly shot by a police officer the night before at the Louis Pink Houses public housing complex, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, in Brooklyn borough of New York. A rookie police officer with his gun drawn shot to death 28-year-old Akai Gurley, an unarmed, innocent man in the darkened stairwell of the crime-ridden public housing complex, New York City police officials said Friday. The shooting appeared to be an accident, Police Commissioner William Bratton said at a news conference. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Kimberly Michelle Ballinger, center, holds Akaila Gurley, 2, daughter of Akai Gurley,who was shot by an NYPD officer, as she is joined by Rev. Al Sharpton, center, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer at the National Action Network in New York Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. Police have described a rookie officer's shooting of Akai Gurley in a Brooklyn staircase Thursday as an apparent accident. Sharpton called for prosecutors to investigate thoroughly and for police to improve training and procedures. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
A resident, left, passes by as members of the New York City Housing Authority wait for an elevator while fixing light fixtures in the stairway of the building where a man was allegedly shot by a police officer the night before at the Louis Pink Houses public housing complex, Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, in Brooklyn borough of New York. A rookie police officer with his gun drawn shot to death 28-year-old Akai Gurley, an unarmed, innocent man in the darkened stairwell of the crime-ridden public housing complex, New York City police officials said Friday. The shooting appeared to be an accident, Police Commissioner William Bratton said at a news conference. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Police officers stand guard at the Public Service Area #2 building as demonstrators arrive in protest of the shooting death of Akai Gurley by rookie NYPD officer Peter Liang at the Louis Pink Houses public housing complex, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Police have described Gurley's death as an apparent accident. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Messages from mourners adorn a memorial to Akai Gurley who was shot to death by rookie NYPD officer Peter Liang at the Louis Pink Houses public housing complex, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Police have described Gurley's death as an apparent accident. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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NEW YORK (AP) -- Prosecutors should charge a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed man in a dark public housing stairwell, elected officials said Monday after the medical examiner announced that the death was ruled a homicide.

City Councilwoman Inez Barron and Assemblyman-elect Charles Barron met with officials in the Brooklyn district attorney's office on Monday. Afterward, Charles Barron told reporters he thought the shooting of Akai Gurley last week warrants a criminal charge for Officer Peter Liang.

He said Liang's use of a police weapon "was reckless endangerment, it was criminally negligent homicide."

Whether charges are filed would be up to Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, who has called the shooting "deeply troubling" and said it warrants "an immediate, fair and thorough investigation." His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

In ruling the death a homicide, the city's medical examiner's office said its finding that Gurley's death "resulted in full or in part from the actions of another person or persons," a gunshot wound to the torso, "does not imply any statement about intent or culpability."

"... The evaluation of the legal implications of this classification is a function of the district attorney and the criminal justice system," the medical examiner said in a statement.

Liang and his partner, both rookie officers, were patrolling a pitch-dark stairwell with flashlights late Thursday when Gurley was shot, police said.

Police said the officers walked down the stairs onto an eighth-floor landing. 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.

Charles Barron said the officers were "well trained" to keep their gun in their holster when there was no apparent danger. "When you pull your gun out and there's no danger, then you have violated (New York Police Department) policy. And if you discharge that weapon, you did it deliberately because you were scared."

Instead, he said, the officer should have pulled out only his flashlight and spoken to Gurley and his girlfriend.

In addition, he said another NYPD policy was violated when the two rookies were sent out on patrol, instead of an experienced officer who could guide a rookie.

Police Commissioner William Bratton previously called the shooting in Brooklyn's gritty East New York neighborhood an apparent accident that claimed a "totally innocent" life.

Several hours after the news conference in front of the district attorney's office, a group of about a dozen protesters calling for Bratton's dismissal showed up at the New York University law school where the commissioner was to speak about urban crime.

A few minutes into his speech, they stood up, turned their backs to Bratton, and chanted "Hands up, don't shoot" and "Bratton must go!"

The commissioner dismissed them, saying, "That's the entertainment for the evening."

After the event, Bratton told reporters he didn't pay attention to anything Charles Barron said, calling the outspoken former city Councilmember an "incendiary device."

Gurley's death comes at a sensitive time in New York. On Staten Island, a grand jury is weighing whether to bring criminal charges against another officer in a chokehold death.

City police often conduct "vertical patrols" inside public housing by going from roofs down staircases that sometimes are havens for crime. Bratton has said the patrols are needed, and the development where Gurley was shot had recently seen a shooting, robberies and assaults.

Liang, 26, has been placed on modified duty. Under standard policy, police internal affairs investigators won't be able to question him until prosecutors have decided whether to file criminal charges.

Mayor Bill de Blasio met with some of Gurley's relatives Friday evening. His office declined to comment on the medical examiner's findings.

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