US & Canada

Akai Gurley death: Policeman charged over fatal shooting

Funeral in Brooklyn Image copyright AP
Image caption A large funeral took place in Brooklyn

A police officer has been charged over the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in a block of flats in New York City, according to a lawyer in the case.

Scott Rynecki told the Associated Press that Officer Peter Liang had been charged by a grand jury in the death of Akai Gurley, a black 28-year-old.

When grand juries declined to charge officers over the deaths of other black men, there were nationwide protests.

After Mr Gurley's death in November, police said it was an accident.

Mr Rynecki is the lawyer for Mr Gurley's partner.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Gurley left a daughter Akaila
Image copyright AP
Image caption The fatal shooting happened on a council estate called Pink Houses

She and Mr Gurley opened the door into the dark stairwell when the police officer was patrolling the flats on 20 November.

Police say Mr Liang fired without a word and apparently by accident.

There has been no official announcement about the grand jury's decision.

Unnamed officials involved in the case told US media on Tuesday there would be charges but it is not clear what they will be.

Patrick Lynch, head of Mr Liang's police union, said he deserves due process.

"The fact that he was assigned to patrol one of the most dangerous housing projects in New York City must be considered among the circumstances of this tragic accident," he said.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Gurley's death sparked protests in New York

New York Mayor Bill De Blasio said: "It has been reported that a Brooklyn grand jury has acted in this case.

"No matter the specific charges, this case is an unspeakable tragedy for the Gurley family. We urge everyone to respect the judicial process as it unfolds."

More on this story