Conviction Stands for Cop Who Shot Akai Gurley
A New York City police officer who fatally wounded an unarmed Black man in a public housing stairwell will face a manslaughter conviction, a judge ruled Thursday.
The decision comes due to the judge’s conclusion that a juror didn’t intentionally withhold information during jury selection, Yahoo reports.
Peter Liang was convicted in February in the shooting death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley in a darkened stairwell of the housing project in 2014. Gurley was walking down to the lobby of the housing complex as Liang patrolled inside of the building. He opened a door to the stairwell and fired his weapon once accidentally.
The bullet ricocheted and struck Gurley.
Liang’s attorneys argued the juror, Michael Vargas initially said no one in his family had been accused of a crime. But Vargas told a local newspaper that his father was sent to prison for accidentally shooting a friend to death.
Judge Danny Chun said he believed the juror did not knowingly withhold the information during jury selection. He said Vargas had “rambled on” during questioning when he was selected as a juror.
“The court finds he has a rambling way of answering questions and it is entirely conceivable he could not think of his father because he felt distance from his father, or he searched his mind and it didn’t enter his mind,” the judge said. “It was not a deliberate withholding.”
Liang is scheduled to be sentenced April 19.