NEW YORK (WABC) --An attorney for the officer convicted of fatally shooting a man in a dark public housing stairwell said he will appeal the verdict, while the NYPD has fired his partner, who testified against him, for his role in the incident.
Defense attorney Robert Brown said Peter Liang is "distraught" after a jury convicted him on Thursday of manslaughter and official misconduct in the 2014 death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley. Liang, who had broken into tears as he testified about the shooting, buried his head in his hands as the verdict came after 17 hours of jury deliberations. He had no comment after the verdict.
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Now, the only African-American juror on the trial is speaking out to Eyewitness News.
"Everybody was very sensitive to the lives, the people," Carlton Screen said.
Screen said it was painful watching the verdict wash across Liang like a tidal wave, but the former NYPD officer, he says, has no one to blame but himself.
"If you put your finger on the trigger, you're ready to shoot," he said. "Now whether you hit someone or, the bullet is going to go somewhere."
The defense insisted that Liang had reason to draw his gun in the darkened stairwell and that he fired by mistake. But Screen says the jury didn't buy that.
"Because it's hard to pull the trigger," he said. "We all tried it."
The gunshot ricocheted off the wall and killed Gurley, who was simply taking the stairs, unarmed, innocent and the father of a 3-year-old girl.
"I have two daughters of my own," Screen said. "And they tell me every day, dad, they love me, they love. She's not going to have that opportunity."
PBA president Patrick Lynch spoke out against the verdict.
"The worst thing you can do for a police officer is put doubt in their heads," he said. "When that happens, they get hurt and the public gets hurt."
Mayor Bill de Blasio said changes are already in the works.
"We have to be in our public housing to protect people, there is no question about it," he said. "But what we are doing now is making sure the officers have a lot of training, a lot of support."
Screen says the verdict should not be seen as a political statement, although the deaths of other men in police custody were an unspoken presence.
"People say they thought about it," he said. "They were home thinking about things. It's on your mind. It's a person's life involved here."
Meanwhile, the NYPD on Friday said that Liang's partner, Shaun Landau, has been fired. Landau was a probationary officer, and his termination was at the discretion of Police Commissioner William Bratton. Landau was not criminally charged in Gurley's death, and he received immunity for his testimony.
Landau testified about patrolling the pitch-dark stairwell at the Louis Pink Houses on Nov. 20, 2014. He discussed how Liang fired the shot that killed Gurley, who was walking down the stairs because the elevator was broken.