NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York City police officer was convicted of manslaughter on Thursday for fatally shooting an unarmed black man in a darkened public housing stairwell.
A jury in Brooklyn found Peter Liang guilty in connection with the death of Akai Gurley, 28, who was killed by a bullet fired from Liang's gun on Nov. 20, 2014, that ricocheted off a wall.
A stunned Liang buried his head in his hands after the verdict was read in court.
He faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced in April. The mostly white jury deliberated for more than two days.
The shooting added to nationwide protests in cities like Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, over the use of police force against minorities, though Liang, a Chinese-American, was not accused of deliberately killing Gurley.
The rookie officer was on patrol inside a Brooklyn public housing project with his partner and drew his gun upon entering a pitch-black stairwell.
He fired a single bullet that glanced off a wall and into the chest of Gurley, who was walking one floor below.
At trial, Liang, 28, testified that a sudden noise startled him, causing his finger to slip onto the trigger and fire. It was only after descending the stairs, Liang said, that he realized the errant bullet had hit Gurley.
"Oh my God, someone's hit," a tearful Liang recalled saying upon finding a bleeding Gurley lying on a landing, as his girlfriend frantically tried to revive him.
But prosecutors argued Liang fired toward the sound deliberately and that he must have known only another person could have caused the noise that surprised him. - http://news.yahoo.com/