(NEW YORK) — A New York City grand jury will be empaneled to determine whether a rookie cop who shot and killed an unarmed man in a Brooklyn stairwell will face criminal charges.
The grand jury was announced Friday by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson as anger still simmers over a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. Garner, who died this summer, was black. The officer was white.
The Brooklyn shooting involves the death of Akai Gurley, 28, a black who was killed last month. The officer who shot him is Asian-American.
The timetable for the grand jury to convene was not immediately clear.
“I pledge to conduct a full and fair investigation and to give the grand jury all of the information necessary to do its job,” Thompson said in a statement. “That information is still being gathered.”
The NYPD has said it appears Gurley died from an accidental discharge of Probationary Officer Peter Liang’s gun. Liang and a partner were on so-called vertical patrol in an East New York housing project’s darkened stairwell at the time.
A statement from Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., who represents the section of Brooklyn where the shooting took place, called the decision to take the case to a grand jury “a meaningful step.”
“Akai Gurley did not deserve to die, and the evidence of a kill shot that penetrated his chest and struck him in the heart suggests something more than a non-criminal accident,” Jeffries said.
The relations between blacks and the police have also been roiled in recent months by the police shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old who was playing with a toy gun when he was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer.
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