CHINATOWN — The rookie police officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed East New York man has chosen two former NYPD officials to represent him in his upcoming trial.
Attorneys Robert Brown and Rae Downes Koshetz will represent Peter Liang as he faces manslaughter and other charges related to the death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley last year, as first reported by the Daily News.
Brown was a captain of the 5th Precinct in Chinatown while Koshetz served as a deputy commissioner in charge of overseeing disciplinary trials within the department, according to their websites and the News.
Liang was previously represented by attorneys provided by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association but decided to change his defense team after his mother worried they “wouldn’t help her son wholeheartedly,” she told Chinese-language media last week.
Liang, with the help of the Chinatown Action Network, an advocacy group, is currently raising money to help pay for legal costs.
Koshetz and Brown, who have previously worked cases together, were hired “very recently,” Koshetz told DNAinfo New York.
“This is a horrible tragedy but Peter Liang did not commit a crime,” she said.
Liang fatally shot Gurley in a dark stairwell while patrolling the Pink Houses on Nov. 20, 2014, prosecutors said.
The bullet ricocheted off the concrete wall and hit Gurley in the chest, prosecutors said, but instead of helping the victim, prosecutors said Liang retreated into a hallway where he argued with his partner about calling in the incident — a charge Liang’s attorneys dispute.
Liang’s trial is scheduled to start in January.