Last night a rookie police officer shot and killed a 28 year old unarmed man named Akai Gurley as he was walking down a staircase in East New York’s Pink Houses. New York City Police Commissioner Bratton described the police shooting as “unintentional, ” and the result of an ‘”accidental discharge.” Whether or not this is actually the case remains to be seen; as we’ve seen first-hand in the cases of our victims of excessive force and police brutality, the New York City Police Department is usually quick to cover themselves with self-serving statements.
According to Mr. Gurley’s girlfriend, Melissa Butler, Mr. Gurley did absolutely nothing wrong and was merely walking down the stairs when the rookie cop gunned him down. Why the officer felt the need to even unholster his firearm is unknown.
Mr. Gurley’s estate will undoubtedly have a compelling civil lawsuit against the officer and the City of New York for the violation of the innocent man’s constitutional rights, as well as claims for wrongful death and quite possibly negligent training. A police officer CANNOT use deadly force unless the officer has probable cause to believe that a suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. In this instance, Mr. Gurley appeared to have been violating no law whatsoever, and the police officer who shot him is going to be hard-pressed to demonstrate that he posed a threat to his or anyone’s safety.
Aside from the civil ramifications of this case, it is unknown whether a criminal investigation will ensue, although if history is any indication, no charges will brought against this officer.
If you or a loved one know someone who has been the victim of police brutality, you should contact an experienced civil rights attorney at once to ensure that your rights are protected and you are justly compensation for any and all injuries unjustifiably suffered.