NY police officer indicted in death of black man: reports

NEW YORK - A New York police officer has been indicted over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man last year, according to media reports Tuesday.

Law enforcement sources told NY1 that Officer Peter Liang was charged by a grand jury in the death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley inside a housing complex in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn District Attorney's office declined to comment on the reports, but said District Attorney Ken Thompson would hold a press conference Wednesday "immediately following an arraignment scheduled for 2 p.m."

Liang, 27, was patrolling a public housing complex in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood last November when he shot and killed Gurley, who was descending a darkened stairwell.

A day after Gurley's death, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said the shooting was an "accident."

Reports of Liang's indictment comes as New York City remains on edge following a decision in December grand jury to not file charges against a white police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, another unarmed black.

The decision, together with a Missouri grand jury's declining to indict a white police officer in the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, have triggered nationwide protests and ignited a debate about race relations and police brutality.

The Harlem-based National Action Network, an organization led by civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, said it was pleased by Liang's indictment.

"Unlike the case in Staten Island, this case shows the difference in a prosecutor who will respect the grand jury’s role to decide probable cause, rather than attempt to influence it," the group said in a statement.

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