BROOKLYN SUPREME COURT — The girlfriend of the unarmed Red Hook man fatally shot by police in the unlit stairwell of the Pink Houses tearfully recounted their final hours together when she took the stand Tuesday at the officer's trial.
Melissa Butler broke down as she recalled frantically following a friend's instructions on how to give CPR to Akai Gurley, 28, after he was shot in the chest by NYPD Officer Peter Liang, prosecutors claim.
She said she didn't recall seeing Liang, who was charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
Butler told the jury that the couple had spent the evening of Nov. 20, 2014, at her parents' seventh-floor apartment, where she braided his hair.
She then walked out with him as he headed home for the night, she recalled.
“He put his stuff on and we went into the hallway to catch the elevator,” Butler said. “It never came.”
The two then opted for the stairs — with Butler about an arm’s length ahead of her boyfriend, she testified. When they entered the stairwell, Gurley looked up, Butler said.
“The door… slammed into the wall, and then a shot went off,” a distraught Butler said. “He ran down the stairs.”
Gurley made it down to the fifth floor landing before collapsing, she said.
“His chest is bleeding,” Butler said. “It was a puddle.”
Butler raced to the fourth floor to alert neighbor Melissa Lopez, who called 911. Butler then hurried back into the stairwell to tend to Gurley, she said.
“I leaned over him in a puddle of blood and urine,” Butler said, her voice wavering. “I was telling him to stay with me. I’m getting him the help.”
Butler said she administered first aid to Gurley for about five minutes, following the instructions of Lopez, who was on the phone with 911. She added that she’d never had formal first aid training.
Butler, who said she met Gurley three years ago at a supermarket, said she didn’t recall seeing Liang at all that night and that no one came from the eighth floor to help.
Liang’s defense team has maintained that the shooting was an accident and that the officer was too distraught to render aid.