Emotional testimony in trial of officer charged in shooting of Akai Gurley

NEW YORK (WABC) -- There was dramatic testimony Tuesday in the trial of NYPD Officer Peter Liang, accused of fatally shooting an unarmed man in the stairwell of a housing development.

A friend of the victim, Akai Gurley, took the stand and described Gurley's final moments before he died.

Coming to court, Liang would face two crucial witnesses on this day in his trial on manslaughter charges.

Emotional testimony from the friend of his victim. And riveting testimony from Shaun Landau, Officer Liang's partner that fateful night.

They were working what was known as a vertical patrol in the Pink Houses in November of 2014 at the time of the shooting.

They were on the 8th floor, Liang about to enter a stairwell.

"He pushed off the door with his right shoulder," Landau said, "He... The shot just went off. I said what the (expletive) happened? He said, It went off by accident."

The rookie officers stood there, Landau said, for the next four minutes discussing who would call in the discharge. Then entering the stairwell they heard sounds and moved down to the fifth floor.

Landau said, "Someone was laying down on the stairwell on his back. His eyes were open."
Asked by the prosecutor:
Q: Did you perform CPR?
A: No, he answered.
Q: Did Officer Liang perform CPR?
A: No. He said.

Other police officials arrived and took officer Liang's service weapon. That's when Landau said, "Officer Liang just fell to the floor and started crying."

Earlier in the day, Melissa Butler, a friend of Akai Gurley who was with him when he was shot in the dark stairwell was brought in to testify.

She said she and Akai were walking down the stairwell when suddenly, "The door on the 8th floor opened and slammed into the wall. I heard a shot."

The bullet, prosecutors say, ricocheted off the wall and struck Gurley in the chest.

She and Akai then began running down the stairs, Butler said, until Akai collapsed on the fifth floor landing.

"I was telling him to stay with me. I'm getting help." Butler said.

A neighbor called for help as Butler went back to Akai.

She said, "He was conscious but not responding. His eyes were bloodshot red. He stopped making any noises."

Butler left the courtroom emotionally distraught and in tears. She was surrounded by friends and family.

Liang has been charged with second degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, second-degree assault, second-degree reckless endangerment and two counts of official misconduct.

The NYPD has called the shooting accidental.
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