The rookie NYPD cop who shot and killed Akai Gurley in a stairwell last year waited almost 20 minutes to report the shooting, refusing to call for or provide medical assistance, as he bickered back and forth with his partner about who should be the one to call their sergeant.
Meanwhile, Gurley lay bleeding on a stairwell with a bullet wound to his chest, still breathing, while his girlfriend ran to a neighbor for help, according to a new document presented this week in the manslaughter trial of New York City police officer Peter Liang.
The statement of facts, presented by the district attorney in rebuttal to a motion from Liang’s defense attorney that the case be dismissed– offers the most detailed account of the shooting to date, describing the rookie officer being more concerned about keeping his job than keeping Gurley alive.
In the minutes after the shooting, Melissa Butler, never having been trained in CPR before, kneeled over her boyfriend, applying pressure to the wound and administrating CPR as her neighbor remained on the phone with the 911 operator relaying instructions.
The cops, despite being trained in CPR and required as police officers to administer it when needed, stepped around them as they made their way down the stairs, still arguing about who should call the sergeant.
“Hurry up and call,” NYPD police officer Shawn Landau told Liang.
“What’s the address?” Liang asked his partner.
Liang finally reported the shooting at 11:19 p.m., almost 20 minutes after the shooting, estimated to have taken place a little after 11 p.m.
And five minutes after the neighbor had already called 911.
It all started on November 20, 2014 when Gurley, who was unarmed and not breaking any law, was visiting his girlfriend at the Brooklyn housing project she lived in.
NYPD officers Liang and Landau were on-duty patrolling the housing projects when they entered a darkened stairwell from the eighth floor to make their way downstairs.
Liang pulled out his gun before entering, even though he was not being threatened.
Meanwhile, Gurley and his girlfriend entered from the seventh floor after having waited for an elevator that never arrived.
Seconds later, Liang fired his gun, striking Gurley in the chest. Investigators said the bullet ricocheted off a wall before striking Gurley.
Fearing for their safety, Gurley and Butler ran down two flights of stairs but Gurley collapsed on the fifth-floor stairwell. Butler then ran down to the fourth floor where she knocked on the neighbor’s door for help.
“What the fuck happened,” Landau asked his partner.
“It went off by accident,” Liang responded, who then began repeatedly saying he would be fired.
The document states that Liang reported the shooting at exactly 11:19 and 46 seconds, followed by a series of follow-up reports to dispatch of an “accidental discharge.”
But New York City Police Lieutenant Vitaly Zelekov had already received a report at 11:15 p.m. that a man had been shot in the building, thanks to the neighbor’s call.
Minutes later, Zelekov arrived at the building as numerous other cops were arriving. He reached the fourth-floor landing and spotted Liang, asking him what had happened.
“I shot him accidentally,” Liang told him.
Zelekov took Liang’s gun, secured it in his waistband and made his way up to the fifth floor where he saw Butler attempting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on Gurley.
Zelekov ordered another officer to relieve Butler, then radioed to dispatch to “rush the bus,” meaning to send an ambulance as soon as possible – the first time that night anybody had requested an ambulance.
That request was logged at 11:21 p.m. and seven seconds. Gurley was pronounced dead at a local hospital at 11:55 p.m.
Liang’s lawyer Stephen Worth told the New York Times that Liang was hyperventilating in the moments following the shooting, and was “too distraught” to help Butler attempt to save Gurley’s life, so therefore, charges should be dismissed.
But Justice Danny K. Chun rejected the motion to drop the charges against Liang, who is facing manslaughter in the second degree, criminally negligent homicide, assault in the second degree, reckless endangerment in the second degree, as well as two counts of official misconduct.
Officer Landau has not been charged for his role in Gurley’s death.