(from NBC News) A day after her son was convicted of manslaughter for fatally shooting Akai Gurley, an unarmed man, in a Brooklyn housing project, Peter Liang's mother spoke publicly Friday afternoon for the first time since the verdict, saying her son blames himself for what happened that November night in 2014.
"He keeps banging his head against the wall," Fenny Liang said in Mandarin. "He said he wishes he was the one who had been struck and killed by the stray bullet." Liang's mother spoke for about eight minutes during a press conference attended by roughly 100 Chinese supporters, many of them immigrants, at a restaurant in Brooklyn's Chinatown not far from Eighth Avenue. Wearing tinted sunglasses and dressed in black, she described how Peter Liang, who worked briefly as an agent for the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), wanted to become a police officer after graduating from college.
"This case has caused us to feel wronged," she said. "It has caused sorrow and has made us heartbroken." Overcome with emotion, Fenny Liang struggled to continue, prompting the audience to fill in her silence with the sound of applause. On Thursday, a jury of seven men and five women convicted the former rookie officer of second-degree manslaughter and official misconduct, a charge that stemmed from Liang's failure to perform CPR on Gurley. Liang and his partner Shaun Landau, both of whom have been fired by the NYPD, were conducting a vertical patrol of a stairwell on Nov. 20, 2014, in the Louis H. Pink Houses when Liang fired his gun.
The bullet ricocheted off the wall of a pitch-dark stairwell and struck 28-year-old Gurley, who had entered from the seventh floor with his friend Melissa Butler. NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton said at the time of the shooting that the fatal shot "appears to be an accidental discharge" of Liang's gun. Before entering the stairwell, Liang had unholstered his Glock 9 mm and placed his finger on the side of the gun, he testified, adding it's up to officers when to draw their weapon. Vertical patrols require that officers first check the roof, where criminal activity often occurs, and then descend the stairs floor by floor, according to testimony.
His gun in his left hand, a flashlight in his right, Liang tried turning the stairway door knob with his right hand, but the door wouldn't open, he said. So he gave it a push with his right shoulder.
Liang said he heard a "quick sound" to his left — a sound that startled him — and his gun went off.
Gurley made it down to the fifth floor landing with Butler where he collapsed, the bullet having pierced his heart and lodged in his liver. Butler knocked on the door of a resident, who called 911 and passed along CPR instructions to Butler.
Prosecutors said that after the shot rang out, neither Liang nor Landau called it in to supervisors, even though both had working radios and cellphones. Liang testified he felt unqualified to perform CPR on Gurley because he was given answers to the exam at the Police Academy and never had a chance to practice on a mannequin.
Many Liang supporters at Friday's press conference said the Chinese-American former police officer wouldn't have been convicted of second-degree manslaughter and official misconduct if he had been white. They said they believed his indictment last February and conviction were a consequence, in part, of white officers not being indicted in police incidents in 2014, in which unarmed black men were killed — those include Eric Garner, a Staten Island man placed in a chokehold, and Michael Brown, a teenager shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri.