HOST INTRO: The day after a jury convicted Police Officer Peter Liang in the death of 28 year old Akai Gurley – Residents of the housing project where Gurley lived are reacting to the verdict. Reporter Daniel Rostas has the details.
ROSTAS: An NYPD officer hasn’t been convicted of a police-involved shooting in over a decade. But yesterday…
COURT TAPE: AS FOR COUNT ONE, CHARGING THE DEFENDANT, PETER LIANG, WITH THE CRIME OF MANSLAUGHTER IN THE SECOND DEGREE. WHAT IS YOUR VERDICT? GUILTY. (SOUND OF CAMERAS) (0:12)
ROSTAS: The rookie officer was patrolling a public housing stairwell in East New York in November 2014. Prosecutors said Liang fired recklessly into the dark – the bullet ricocheted, hitting Akai Gurley in the chest and killing him. Liang’s defense said it was an accident, and he didn’t even know someone had been shot at first. The housing project where Gurley lived is called the Pink Houses. It’s a complex of 22 8 story tall buildings, a fifteen minute walk away from the A train. Very few people were outside on this chilly Friday. One of them was Virginia Thomas:
ROSTAS: DO YOU LIVE AROUND HERE?
THOMAS: YES I DO, SINCE 1989, AND I’M 78 YEARS OLD.
ROSTAS: She was just on her way through the courtyard, and said she feels some sympathy for the police officer.
VIRGINIA THOMAS: Nowadays you can’t take chances – things happen so fast, you gotta do what you gotta do. It’s either you or him. And that’s how I feel about it. (0:07)
ROSTAS: Johnny Hogan was making his way down Linden Boulevard – he had mixed feelings.
JOHNNY HOGAN: I mean, the guy, he’s fresh on the force, he really didn’t know, this is a dangerous area – but on the other hand, a life was taken, so he’s got to be held accountable…. (0:09)
ROSTAS: But others felt the jury did the right thing. Joey Henderson was walking his dog, and hadn’t yet heard about the verdict.
JOEY HENDERSON: Well, I feel like, you know, justice has been served, cause, at that point… He had no right to shoot the person. (0:07)
ROSTAS: Mayor Bill De Blasio said he hopes the outcome brings some closure to Gurley’s family. Salim, who was visiting friends in the Pink Houses, said that’s what matters:
SALIM: I THINK JUSTICE FINALLY GOT DONE FOR HIS FAMILY, FOR HIS FAMILY AND KIDS, YEAH.
ROSTAS: Liang will be back in court for sentencing on April 14th. A rally is being held by Gurley’s family at NYPD headquarters today at 5. Daniel Rostas, Columbia Radio News