Democrats hailed a Brooklyn grand jury’s decision today to reportedly indict the NYPD officer who killed Akai Gurley last year–a stark contrast to reactions after a Staten Island grand jury voted not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner.
Progressives had kind words for Kenneth Thompson, the Brooklyn district attorney who was able to secure the indictment.
“Like many New Yorkers, I was troubled by the death of Akai Gurley. As the legal process plays out, I urge New Yorkers to continue to come together as we work to move our City forward on police-community relations,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a critic of the Garner decision. “I commend Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson for his diligence and applaud his handling of this sensitive case.”
Officer Peter Liang in November shot and killed Gurley, 28, in an unlit stairwell inside an East New York housing project. Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and police unions called the shooting an accident, though family of Gurley asked for a homicide charge. Mr. Liang will be charged with manslaughter, according to the Daily News.
Gurley became yet another African-American man, after the Garner and Michael Brown cases, to die as the result of a police action. His death spurred anti-police brutality protests across the city.
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a Thompson ally and the Democrat who represents the district where Gurley lived and died, said the indictment was a “meaningful step in the right direction.”
“The effort to strengthen the relationship between the police and the community necessarily involves holding an officer accountable when an innocent life is taken and a law is broken,” Mr. Jeffries said. “The indictment is a meaningful step in the right direction in the march toward justice for the family of Akai Gurley. District Attorney Thompson should be commended for proceeding with this case on the basis of the law and the facts.”
Kirsten John Foy, the northeast director of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, implied Mr. Thompson, unlike Republican Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, conducted himself fairly.
“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. We will monitor this to make sure there is a fair process,” Mr. Foye said.
Mr. Thompson, who is first black district attorney of Brooklyn, will hold a news conference tomorrow to discuss the grand jury decision. He has yet to publicly comment on the case since news broke that Mr. Liang would be indicted.