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Akai Gurley fatal police-involved shooting will get grand jury scrutiny, Brooklyn DA says

NYPD forensic experts are examining the 9-mm bullet

NYPD forensic experts are examining the 9-mm bullet taken from the body of Akai Gurley, the Brooklyn man fatally shot by a police officer, in an effort to shed more light on what happened at the Pink Houses in East New York, a law enforcement official said. Photo Credit: Facebook

A grand jury will be asked to consider charges in the police-involved fatal shooting of an unarmed man in a poorly lit staircase in East New York’s Pink Houses, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office said Friday.

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson’s civil rights unit has been investigating the death of Akai Gurley, 28, since he was shot and killed on Nov. 20, by police officer Peter Liang.

Thompson, who had previously called Gurley’s death “deeply troubling,” released a statement pledging "a full and fair investigation" while emphasizing "it is important to get to the bottom of what happened."

Thompson said there is "no timetable for the grand jury to be impaneled or for its determination to be reached."

Thompson released the statement just hours after Gurley's family spoke for the first time Friday morning, calling for Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Brooklyn prosecutor's office to investigate the case as a homicide.

"Nothing in this world will heal my pain and heartache," said Sylvia Palmer, Gurley's mother. "My son didn't deserve to die like that. All his dreams were taken away so innocently. It's not right, I need justice for my son."

Following the fatal encounter between Gurley and the officer, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton described the incident as a tragic accident, saying Gurley was “a total innocent.”

Gurley was shot while entering the seventh floor stairwell at the East New York development as Liang and another officer descended from the eighth floor, police have said. Liang was holding a flashlight and his gun when it went off.  

The medical examiner ruled Gurley's death a homicide.

A wake is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church on Washington Avenue in Brooklyn. Gurley's funeral is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at the church.

With Newsday

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