The Problematic Prosecution of an Asian American Police Officer: Notes From a Participant in People v. Peter Liang
Peter Liang is a former New York City Police Officer convicted
of accidentally killing a twenty-eight-year-old African-American
man, Akai Gurley in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project.
On the evening of Thursday, November 20, 2014, Mr. Liang was a
rookie officer, 11 months out of the police academy. He and his
partner Shaun Landau, also a rookie, were on patrol in the Louis
Pink Houses, a public housing project built by Robert Moses in
East New York, Brooklyn. They were pulling, a mandatory
overtime shift ordered because of recent shootings in the Pink
Houses. This was only their second time patrolling the Pink
Officers Liang and Landau went to the eighth floor, the top
floor, of the building at 2724 Linden Boulevard to do "floor checks,"
a technique where officers patrol at the stairwell and each floor of
a building. Sometimes this technique is called "vertical patrol." In
this building, there were two stairwells. One was lit; in the other,
the lights were broken, so the stairwell was completely black. The
officers decided to check the dark stairwell. Officer Liang removed
his pistol from his holster, as is authorized by NYPD policy, and
held his flashlight in his other hand. He looked through a porthole
in the door but could not hear or see anything on the other side.
He opened the door to the eighth floor stairwell with his shoulder,
looking up the stairs toward the roof. He heard a noise from the
seventh floor stairwell and involuntarily discharged his pistol, a
9mm Glock. His pistol was pointed downward, toward the ground,
as he was trained. In a freak accident, the bullet travelled down
the staircase between the seventh and eighth floors, hit and
ricocheted off the wall of the stairway, and struck Mr. Gurley in
the heart. The wound was immediately fatal.
Chin, Gabriel J.
"The Problematic Prosecution of an Asian American Police Officer: Notes From a Participant in People v. Peter Liang,"
Georgia Law Review: Vol. 51:
4, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/glr/vol51/iss4/4