Judge upholds DA’s recommendation, charge reduced to criminally negligent homicide
Peter Liang, the former NYPD officer convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of unarmed Akai Gurley, will not be facing any jail time after a judge reduced his manslaughter conviction to criminally negligent homicide and upheld District Attorney Ken Thompson’s recommendations of five years probation and 800 hours of community service. He declined to act on Thompson’s recommendations of 6 months house arrest.
Liang, convicted in February of manslaughter for fatally shooting Gurley, had previously seen his motion for a mistrial be denied as the activists and community leaders on both sides of the issue braced themselves for the ultimate sentencing.
“I find that given the defendant’s background, and given how remorseful he is that it would not be necessary to incarcerate the defendant to have a just sentence in this case,” said Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. “Shooting somebody never entered his mind. This was not an intentional act. This was an act of criminal negligence.”
Earlier, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said in an official statement that he was recommending probation and home confinement over prison time, incensing members of Gurley’s family and their allies. While over 200 extra cops – including from NYPD’s notorious Strategic Response Group – stationed themselves outside and erected metal barricades to suppress protesters, Thompson shocked court observers by not showing up for the sentencing.
“Because his incarceration is not necessary to protect the public, and due to the unique circumstances of this case, a prison sentence is not warranted,” Thompson said in a previous statement.
Before his sentencing, Liang apologized to Gurley’s family, insisting that he “always treated people with fairness and respect.”
Gurley’s family also spoke, angered over what they perceived to be a blatant prosecutorial double standard.
“We’re not rejoicing,” said Hentensia Petersen, Gurley’s aunt, “It’s about being accountable for an innocent life that was taken. Akai’s life doesn’t matter. There’s not justice. Black lives don’t matter. Justice will be served one way or another”
“You took a piece of me, you took a piece of my heart,” said Gurley’s girlfriend Melissa Butler to Liang before his sentencing, “Akai took his last breath and died in my hands. I’m suffering while you still have your life.”
Liang was convicted of manslaughter in February for shooting Gurley around 11:15 pm November 20, 2014 in the Pink Houses in East New York. A ricocheted bullet struck Gurley, and Mr. Liang in particular was scrutinized during trial for his inability to perform CPR,which the NYPD has admitted was the result of faulty training.
Both Liang and partner Shaun Landau testified that they didn’t jump to Gurley’s aid because they lacked proper CPR training.
State Assemblyman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) responded to Thompson’s recommendations by staging a protest outside the DA’s office saying “Don’t make us bring Feruguson to New York City” adding that “violence is inevitable” if Liang was not sentenced to time in prison.
Outside the courthouse, about 60 protesters chanted “They think it’s a game, they think it’s a joke.”
— Ash J (@AshAgony) April 19, 2016
Injustice.in will be following the peaceful demonstrations for Gurley as they arise.