Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams slammed city and state officials on Sunday, saying both need to be doing more to protect innocent people from gun violence.
Adams spoke outside the 75th Precinct in East New York, not far from where a 9-month-old girl was accidentally shot in her stomach by her father on Saturday afternoon, and not far from where 28-year-old Akai Gurley was fatally shot by an officer on Thursday.
Gurley was unarmed, and walking with his girlfriend in a dark stairwell in the Louis H. Pink Houses when he was accidentally shot and killed by Police Officer Peter Liang. Liang, on patrol with his partner, had his gun drawn and it accidentally discharged, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Friday. Bratton called Gurley a “total innocent.”
Liang has been a cop for 18 months, and was paired with another rookie cop. He has been relieved of his gun and badge while the NYPD and Brooklyn District Attorney investigate.
Adams said Gurley’s “unfortunate” death was a “teaching moment for both the NYPD and NYCHA.
Adams called for a 24-hour repair policy at public housing buildings and continued firearm training for police officers. He also said that for their first six months on the job, new cops should be paired with experienced officers.
The borough president, a former police officer, said he has performed similar patrols in “dimly lit” places with his hand on his weapon. Adams said regardless of the investigation’s outcome, Liang should not return to the force.
“The fatality of taking a life of an innocent person is too fatal to continue a law enforcement career,” Adams said. “I don’t think there is an exoneration for taking an innocent life.”
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association did not return calls on Sunday. In prepared statements, the PBA called the complex “among the most dangerous” in the city, and said criminals, not police, “make these places dangerous.”
Adams also said Sunday he is working with Brooklyn Assembly member N. Nick Perry, who will introduce a bill in January to increase sentences for those found with illegal guns in homes where children also live.
Under current law, criminal possession of a loaded weapon is a Class C felony punishable by three-and-a-half to 15 years in prison. The law would increase the charge to criminal possession of a loaded weapon, a Class B felony, and raise the punishment from 5-25 years.
On Saturday afternoon, nine-month old Jessica Rosales, was shot in the abdomen while her father, Pedro Rosales, 47, was cleaning his Colt 45, according to the police. Adams said the firearm was “illegal,” and police have charged Rosales with acting in a manner injurious to a child, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. The girl’s mother, Jessica Aguilar, 24, has been charged with acting in a manner injurious to a child and reckless endangerment, police said. The baby continues to be treated at Woodhull Medical Center.
“We can’t continue to have a culture where illegal guns are in homes or premises with children in the same location,” Adams said. “It is despicable for anyone to carry an illegal weapon.”