New York City Police Officer Shoots And Kills Unarmed Black Man For Using Stairs In Building

akai gurley

A New York City police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man Thursday evening  after the man and his girlfriend opted to take the stairs instead of the elevator in the woman’s apartment building. The couple encountered two police officers in the dimly lit stairwell as they approached the woman’s floor. One of the officers already had his gun drawn while in the stairwell and shot the man, 28-year-old Akai Gurley, once in the chest as the couple came upon the officers. The officer who killed Gurley has been identified as Peter Liang, a rookie officer who was on a probationary assignment patrolling a housing project.

Michelle Butler, Gurley’s girlfriend, recounted the tragic event to the New York Daily News.

“They didn’t identify themselves,” said Butler, 27, who began dating Gurley in January 2011. “No nothing. They didn’t give no explanation. They just pulled a gun and shot him in the chest.”

The terrified couple ran down to the fifth floor before Gurley collapsed in a pool of blood. Butler, who was standing alongside her boyfriend when he was hit, recalled their frantic final moments together as she begged Gurley to keep fighting.

“Yo, you OK? Talk to me!” she recalled shouting. “He wasn’t saying nothing. That was the last thing I said to him.”

Butler said the officers never came down to check on the mortally wounded man, and medical help was only sent after she banged on a neighbor’s door for help.

NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton held a press conference Friday morning to discuss the shooting incident. He stated that it was “an unfortunate tragedy” and said that it appeared to be “an accidental discharge” of the officer’s weapon. Bratton also pointed out that the building had seen two robberies and four assaults recently, perhaps providing cover to the officer regarding why his weapon was drawn as he entered the stairwell.

DNAinfo, a news website covering New York and Chicago neighborhoods, provided the following tweets from the press conference.


Based on the evidence and the police commissioner’s statements, Gurley was killed for no other reason than being a black man walking up some stairs in a building that had recently witnessed crimes. A nervous police officer had his gun out and as soon as he encountered Gurley, the officer shot first without hesitation. Due to this natural inclination to be prepared to shoot at a moment’s notice, a totally innocent man is dead.

While this may just be an unfortunate “circumstance of events,” it further validates the feeling among the black community that people of color are unfairly treated and targeted by law enforcement. In a September article, Mother Jones provided data from the CDC showing that over the past 40 years, blacks have been four times more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than whites. While that disparity shrank last decade, Mother Jones also revealed that over the same time period, the FBI’s stats still showed a 4-to-1 disparity in the rate of justifiable homicides between the two races.


Image courtesy of DNAinfo

24 Replies to “New York City Police Officer Shoots And Kills Unarmed Black Man For Using Stairs In Building”

  1. Now you can’t use stairs while black. Let’s see, what’s left? Work, eat, breathe, live? THAT it live! Cuz in Amerukkka, the best n****s are dead ones!

  2. “Accidental discharge”? Didn’t mean to pull the trigger and kill you there… so… uh… no harm, no foul?

  3. Can you say “out of court settlement”?
    This message was brought to you by the legal department representing the NYC Police.

  4. “accidental discharge”? that doesnt explain why neither one of the cops followed them to check on his condition and call for an ambulance, does it?

  5. What kind of ‘cop’ would shoot someone and then pretend like nothing happened? That’s a deliberate act, and may have contributed to the victim’s death. Beyond sad, and beyond disgusting.

  6. He only shot once. Accidental discharge. I guess he can’t say that the guy was bum rushing him with his head down or trying to take his gun. If this guy doesn’t get charged the protests in Ferguson will look like a picnic.

  7. My thoughts are with the family of the deceased. I cannot even imagine what they are going through.

  8. But the old type is still going strong
    A Lynching in North Carolina?
    On August 29, the body of 17 year old Lennon Lacy was found hanging from a children’s swing set in ‘a predominantly white’ mobile home park in rural Bladenboro, North Carolina (population 1,750). Lennon Lacy was African American. The shoes on his feet did not belong to him and were two sizes to small. Abrasions and lumps marred his body and face. According to police, these injuries were caused by ants but the undertaker who embalmed the body said they were reminiscent of damage sustained in bar fights. Despite these red flags, the coroner quickly ruled Lacy’s death a suicide.

  9. Accidental discharge and no one follows to find out what the hell happened? They are teaching the probies right.

  10. This is all laying the groundwork for another 1968 style riot!! now of course we’ll get the customary trick bag of nonsensical BULL$HIT from our white republican apologist that flock HERE!!, because I can hear their BULL$HIT already, ”he must have been doing something wrong”, ”he must have been on DRUGS”, ” must have had the strength of a hundred men and was charging the police” lets be real, “MOST” white republicans wouldn’t know the truth if bing crosby and ronald reagan sang it to them. this country is going backwards!! and it ain’t by accident!! the white southern power players are pushing the buttons!! Wait till the black panthers or some other black group forms to combat this!! thats what the OLE BOYS are praying for!!

  11. There’s no possibility of compensation for the deceased victim of police over-reaction.
    There are no brave cops left, They seem to all shoot first out of fear.
    Manslaughter at least. The supervising officer should be charged as well.

  12. This is fracked up!!! However since this is not BibleSwamp Mississippi and IS a more respectable modern city there will be action, let’s hope it is appropriate.

  13. Don’t forget “following a police officer’s instructions.” Reaching for your wallet when ID is demanded will also get you shot. As will not following instructions.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  14. No such thing as a good cop. If there were, there would be no bad cops ’cause the “good” ones would turn them in.
    I feel bad for the rookie cop, he was just doing as he was told, as he was trained: “You see a black man running at you, shoot him. You won’t get in trouble.”

  15. BTW, you see how the police department is setting this MURDER up??!! accidental shooting, a ROOKIE cop, a pitch black stairwell!! here comes the parade of nonsensical, BULL$HIT, easily exposed, poorly put together EXCUSES!!! I don’t care about EXCUSES!! and neither does his family!! for the first time in my 53 yrs, I’m more afraid of the COPS than I am of the so called CRIMINALS!! seriously! NO JUSTICE!! NO PEACE!!

  16. Population of 1750. Somebody saw something and somebody probably bragged about what they did. Its total bullshit. I hope the people that did it, meet a fate to match. The problem is nobody, once again, calls out these freaks.

  17. Nope, not an unfortunate “circumstance of events,”. That dont fly with a trained police officer.

    Biblical. An eye for an eye

  18. We have to get control of the police. NYC police, just like Ferguson police and many, many local police forces, received their police training in Israel and therein lies the problem. Our police are not an illegally occupying force whose role is to oppress the “subhumans” they police, as the IDF consider Palestinians, where brutal assault on anyone not one of them is expected and considered deserved. We have to rid ourselves of this policing and return to the American way of doing things in society, not the Israeli way. It is destroying our nation.

  19. I like the way you think, and if a police officer were to approach me in this day and time, I would probably pee my pants out of fear. I don’t care how they explain this away, the girlfriend and the family needs to be compensated, and the one who came up with the excuses needs to be fired along with the officer. I am so tired of hearing these types of stories. Black people need to come up with a plan. No one is going to protect us, so it is up to us to protect ourselves.

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