Trial Opens for NYPD Officer Charged in Stairwell Death

NEW YORK (AP) -

A New York police officer recklessly fired his gun into a darkened stairwell, shooting a man, and then “stood there whining and moaning about how he could get fired” instead of helping the dying man, a prosecutor said Monday at the manslaughter trial.

After the 2014 shooting, Officer Peter Liang and his partner walked past Akai Gurley and a friend who was trying to give him CPR, prosecutor Marc Fliedner said in opening statements.

“A police officer – this police officer – and he never even knelt down and try to fix what he’d done,” Fliedner said.

Defense attorney Rae Koshetz said that Liang’s gun discharged accidentally and that he didn’t commit a crime.

“Peter Liang had no intent to hurt anybody,” she said.

Her client had his gun drawn because he was headed to the roof of the crime-riddled housing project — “the most dangerous place of a dangerous place,” she said.

Koshetz said Liang initially had no idea the bullet had struck anyone. Once he learned, “he was in a state of shock and was hyperventilating,” she said.

Prosecutors agree that the rookie officer didn’t mean to shoot Gurley. But African-American groups want a conviction as a counterpoint to decisions by grand juries declining to indict white police officers in other killings.

Chinese-American supporters, however, say Liang has been made a scapegoat for past injustices.

“He just happens to be a very convenient person to go after,” said Phil Gim, who’s helped organize rallies supporting Liang, who was born in Hong Kong.