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Rally Calls For Probe Into Fatal Police Shooting Of Unarmed Man In Brooklyn

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Family members of the unarmed man fatally shot by an NYPD officer in Brooklyn this week joined Rev. Al Sharpton at a rally Saturday to urge prosecutors to do a thorough investigation.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said it appears Officer Peter Liang shot 28-year-old Akai Gurley by accident as he and his girlfriend entered a pitch black stairwell.

Sharpton, however, said there needs to be an investigation before calling the shooting an accident.

"They are saying it was an accident, we're saying how do we know until there is a thorough investigation?" he said to the crowd. "What we do know is this baby will grow up without a daddy who did nothing wrong."

Sharpton stood with Gurley's 2-year-old daughter and her mother to call on the Brooklyn district attorney to investigate, 1010 WINS' Roger Stern reported.

"Now I've lost my brother I'll never be able to see him again or kiss him or hug him again," Akisha Pringle said, Gurley's sister.

Supporters also gathered Saturday night in Brooklyn in response to Gurley's death, saying they want action.

As CBS2's Dave Carlin reported, dozens marched two miles from the Louis H. Pink Houses to face the NYPD.

"We are having a series of senseless murders, not only in New York, but around the country and it just seems like black lives don't matter," one attendee told 1010 WINS' Gary Baumgarten.

"This is not supposed to be happening again, again and again," another supporter said.

Rally Calls For Probe Into Fatal Police Shooting Of Unarmed Man In Brooklyn

Activists and residents are calling for Commissioner Bratton to be fired and for the arrest of Liang, 1010 WINS reported.

"We've got to see what happened here. You can't just walk away and say 'oops.'" Councilman Jumaane Williams said.

"There's definitely criminal negligence. There's no reason to have your gun out and the safety on the trigger. It baffles my mind," Williams added.

The shooting happened around 11:15 p.m. Thursday as Liang and his partner were patrolling inside a building at the Louis Heaton Pink Houses in East New York.

Bratton said Liang and his partner were going into a stairwell from the eighth floor while Gurley and his girlfriend were going down the stairs from the 7th floor.

Rally Calls For Probe Into Fatal Police Shooting Of Unarmed Man In Brooklyn

Police sources told CBS2 that Liang was trying to open a door while holding a gun, and the gun went off accidentally, hitting Gurely in the chest.

Gurley was taken to Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Liang has been placed on modified duty, WCBS 880's Monica Miller reported.

Rally Calls For Probe Into Fatal Police Shooting Of Unarmed Man In Brooklyn

Bratton joined Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife in a visit to Gurley's mother and family in Red Hook Friday night, CBS2's Janelle Burrell reported.

Bratton emphasized that police believe Gurley had done nothing wrong.

"Let me reinforce – at this point, the deceased is, based on our preliminary investigation, totally innocent," Bratton said.

Gurley's loved ones want to know why Liang had his gun drawn in the first place, and a group that included state Assemblyman-elect Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) is now calling for the police commissioner to step down.

"Bratton must go! Bratton must go!" the group chanted outside the housing complex.

"You think Ferguson was bad, you keep killing us here in New York and getting away with it, you haven't seen anything yet," Assemblyman-elect Barron said.

Sharpton said it's time to look at police conduct and training.

"It is time for us to stop ducking the issue and dealing with the issue of police conduct, police training and the rights of citizens," he said. "...This young man should not be dead."

Because the officers did not initially realize that the shot had hit anyone, there was about a five-minute delay in their radio call of a man shot, sources told CBS2.

Police sources told CBS2 a neighbor made the first 911 call at 11:15 p.m. and an ambulance was dispatched a minute later. By 11:19 p.m., a lieutenant and supervisor arrived on the scene.

But it was after that -- at 11:20 p.m. -- when Liang and his partner radioed for help, reporting "Accidental discharge. Man shot," Burrell reported.

Bratton said it remains unclear why Liang had his gun drawn during what was supposed to be a routine patrol.

"We leave that decision as to when to take a firearm out at the discretion of the officer based on what they encounter or believe they may encounter," he said.

Saturday's rally was held at the National Action Network headquarters in Harlem.

Meanwhile, Gurley's sister traveled to New York from Florida to be with her grieving family.

Akisha Pringle told reporters that she's heartbroken over her brother's death, saying he was a good man.

"I've lost my brother. I'll never be able to kiss or hug him again. And that hurts me and I know it hurts my mother," she said. "He's always been a nice person, very giving, very kind. And he's not this criminal that you all picture him to be in the media."

Published reports have mentioned Gurley's criminal past, but not necessarily made it the focal point, 1010 WINS reported. According to published reports, he had roughly two dozen prior arrests over the past nine years and was released from Rikers Island on Oct. 3, 1010 WINS reported.

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