From CBS New York:

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the fatal shooting of an unarmed man inside the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing complex by a rookie cop appears to have been accidental.

It happened around 11:15 p.m. Thursday as two officers were patrolling inside the Pink Houses complex on Linden Boulevard in East New York.

Police said the two were descending a “dimly lit stairwell” from the eighth floor when they encountered 28-year-old Akai Gurley, who entered the stairwell from the seventh floor with his girlfriend.

That’s when rookie Officer Peter Liang apparently accidentally discharged one shot from his service weapon, striking Gurley in the chest, Bratton said. He was taken to Brookdale Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Bratton said Friday that Liang had his gun and flashlight out prior to the shooting “for safety reasons” in the darkened stairwell. He said the second officer did not draw his weapon.

“What happened last night was a very unfortunate tragedy,” Bratton said. “The deceased is totally innocent. He just happened to be in the hallway. He was not engaged in any criminal activity.”

He said Gurley and his girlfriend had tried to get an elevator, but it was delayed so they decided to take the stairs instead when they encountered the officers.

“The deceased is totally innocent. He just happened to be in the hallway. He was not engaged in any criminal activity”

“The deceased was not engaged in any activity other than trying to walk down the stairwell,” Bratton said.

Residents said they heard the gun go off.

“All I heard was a boom,” eighth floor resident Ernestine Terrell told CBS2′s Andrea Grymes. “That’s all I heard.”

“We’re used to hearing sounds,” seventh floor Angela Burroghs said. “Not necessarily in the building, not necessarily that close. I could tell it was the hallway because of the sound.”

The family of Gurley’s girlfriend, Melissa Butler, told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck that by her account, the officers said nothing.

Bratton said investigators have pieced together what happened from interviews and radio reports, but have not spoken to the officer.

Standard policy states Liang must first be interviewed by the district attorney’s office before being interviewed by internal affairs officers, Bratton said.

“As we continue to gather the facts, the fatal shooting of this unarmed man is deeply troubling and warrants an immediate, fair and thorough investigation,” Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement.



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