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NYPD Officers Grilled Over CPR Training at Akai Gurley Trial

By  Ben Fractenberg and John Santore | February 4, 2016 7:45pm 

 Officer Peter Liang is escorted out of court in Brooklyn after being charged with manslaughter, official misconduct and other offenses on Feb. 11, 2015.
Officer Peter Liang is escorted out of court in Brooklyn after being charged with manslaughter, official misconduct and other offenses on Feb. 11, 2015.
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

BROOKLYN SUPREME COURT — The former partner of NYPD Officer Peter Liang, who is on trial for killing unarmed Brooklyn man Akai Gurley, testified in court Thursday that he didn't know what to do after the shooting despite having CPR certification.

“You never gave any aid?” Liang’s defense lawyer, Robert Brown, asked Officer Shaun Landau, the New York Post reported.

“Yes,” Liang's former partner responded, according to the Post.

The lawyer then asked Landau if he was certified in CPR. Landau said he was before admitting he didn't know how to administer it when he realized Gurley had been shot.

On Tuesday, Landau testified that he and Liang spent four minutes debating who would report the shot outside of the "pitch black" Pink Houses stairwell where Liang's gun went off on Nov. 20, 2014.

The officers then went into the stairwell and heard a commotion below them. They descended and found Melissa Butler crying over her dying boyfriend’s body. Gurley had been struck after Liang's bullet ricocheted off a wall. 

READ MORE: Here's What We Know About Officer Peter Liang's Trial

In related testimony Thursday, Officer John Funk, who responded to the shooting, said he received CPR instruction in an auditorium with about 300 fellow officers at the NYPD's police academy in 2013. During the session, mannequins were provided for the officers to practice on, but Funk said he didn't get an opportunity to train with one.

He also said he didn’t read the entire CPR handbook given to him at the time.

Even so, Funk said he passed the CPR test given by the department, and didn't know anyone who had failed.

During their cross-examination, prosecutors asked Funk if he would be “prepared” to perform CPR if he came upon someone in distress.

“Correct,” Funk said.

Butler performed CPR on Gurley after a neighbor, Melissa Lopez, called 911 and relayed information from the dispatcher explaining how to administer it.

A recording of Lopez's call was played for the jury Thursday.

"She's alone with him," Lopez told the EMS dispatcher at one point, referring to Butler and Gurley. "He's not breathing." 

Another responding officer, Jeremy Lucca, testified Thursday that while on vertical patrols, officers are trained to take out their gun "if you feel you're in fear." 

"You can take it out when you feel the need to," Funk said. 

Both Lucca and Funk said they were taught to keep their trigger finger alongside the gun unless pointing it at a specific threat, and to aim it in a safe direction.

"Would you consider pointing your gun at the wall a safe direction?" the defense attorney asked Funk. 

"Yes, that's a safe direction," Funk said. 

Lucca and Craig Roach, a third officer who responded to the Pink Houses scene, escorted Liang to an ambulance. They described him as being overwhelmed when they arrived.

“When I first saw him, he was very worried, very troubled, he looked very distraught,” Roach said.

Lucca said that he found Liang in the hallway, “sitting down with his head in his hands. He was crying and just seemed really out of it.”

Roach and Lucca both said Liang was “hyperventilating” in the ambulance, and needed the help of an oxygen mask to breathe.

During the proceedings Thursday, the defense attorney also questioned discrepancies between transcripts of the 911 call — which began at 11:14 p.m. — and the radio dispatch call, which began three minutes later, as well as the accuracy of the transcripts themselves. 

The NYPD intelligence analyst who made the transcripts said he produced them based on all radio calls available to him and stood by their accuracy. 

The trial is set to resume Friday. Liang is expected to take the stand Monday, Feb. 8.