The Brooklyn and Philadelphia District Attorneys, both African-American men, have gone where their white colleagues have feared or refused to go by indicting sworn police officers for misconduct and illegal shooting deaths of unarmed civilians.
Ken Thompson, the Brooklyn or Kings County, N.Y., District Attorney, Wednesday announced a grand jury indictment of New York City Police Officer Peter Liang for the shooting death Akai Gurley, 28, in November.
Gurley, an actor, and his girlfriend were walking down the stairs of the Pink Houses, a housing project in Brooklyn, because the elevator was broken. When the two saw Liang, he fired one shot, killing Gurley.
The Brooklyn Grand Jury indicted Liang for second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of official misconduct. The second-degree manslaughter charge carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Liang was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Brooklyn Supreme Court and released without bail.
Liang’s indictment follows the indictment of Philadelphia police officers Sean McKnight and Kevin Robinson for beating Najee Rivera.
Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams, accompanied by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, announced the indictments.
According to a news release, McKnight and Robinson chased Rivera on his scooter before knocking him off the bike. Both officers then beat Rivera with their fists and batons, severely injuring Rivera, who sustained a fractured orbital bone and numerous lacerations to his head.
While Rivera was in the hospital, McKnight and Robinson submitted paperwork, falsely accusing Rivera of assaulting Robinson and resisting arrest. Police arrested and charged Rivera with aggravated assault and related offenses.
Police dropped the charges after video evidence showed that the cops falsified their story. The police officers were charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, criminal conspiracy, recklessly endangering another person, tampering with public records or information, false reports to law enforcement authorities, obstructing the administration of law and official oppression, Williams said.
The indictment of three officers follows the failure of a Staten Island Grand Jury to indict New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner on July 17, 2014. A bystander filmed Garner’s death.
In Ferguson, Mo., a St. Louis Grand Jury refused to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of an unarmed Michael Brown on August 9th. Robert P. McCullough, the St. Louis County District Attorney, later admitted on a radio show that one of the prosecution witnesses lied to the grand jury and did not witness the shooting as she had claimed.
And in Beavercreek, Ohio, two police officers shot and killed John Crawford, 22, as he leaned on a toy rifle while talking on a mobile phone inside a Wal-Mart store. Beavercreek police officers Sean Williams, who shot Crawford and Sergeant David Darkow, Williams’ partner, were not indicted and are back on the job. Crawford was shot to death a few days before Michael Brown. Crawford’s family has sued Wal-Mart, the Beavercreek Police Department, Williams and Darkow.