Judge ruled Thursday that a mistrial would not be granted for rookie NYPD cop found guilty of manslaughter
Peter Liang, the former NYPD officer convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of unarmed Akai Gurley, is expected to be sentenced this afternoon after a judge ruled Thursday against a motion filed on his behalf to have the ruling declared a mistrial.
A jury convicted Liang of second-degree manslaughter in February for the shooting death of Gurley, prompting his immediate termination from the NYPD.
He is facing a possible maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
He was 28 years old and just 18 months out of the police academy when he was patrolling the Pink Houses in East New York, Brooklyn, in November 2014.
As a tactic inside of the NYPD’s larger “Broken Windows” policing theory, he was instructed to enter one of the buildings to do a full sweep of each floor. The stairwell’s lights had gone out and fearing for his safety he recklessly discharged his weapon.
A ricocheted bullet struck Gurley, and Mr. Liang in particular was scrutinized during trial for his inability to perform CPR, which was the result of faulty training.
Despite the jury’s findings, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement that despite Liang’s negligence directly causing Gurley’s death that “a prison sentence is not warranted,” instead recommending Liang be sentenced to five years of probation, with the condition that he serve six months of home confinement with electric monitoring and 500 hours of community service.
“Peter Liang’s reckless actions caused an innocent man to lose his life. There is no evidence, however, that he intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley. When Mr. Liang went into that building that night, he did so as part of his job and to keep the people of Brooklyn and our city safe.”
“Liang has no prior criminal history and poses no future threat to public safety. 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. “The sentence that I have requested is just and fair under the circumstances of this case. From the beginning, this tragic case has always been about justice and not about revenge.”
Thompson’s statements have inflamed activists and community leaders, who see this as another example of a faulty criminal justice system providing special treatment to law enforcement officials even when convicted of misconduct.
Ahead of the sentencing, Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) spoke out in solidarity with #blacklivesmatter and Akai Gurley, saying “As queer [Asian PAcific ISlander] API people, we send our condolences to Akai Gurley’s family during this hard time. As we wait for Peter Liang’s sentencing Tuesday, we hope that he will be held accountable for his crimes. We are committed to challenging the larger systems of law enforcement that take lives of Black and Brown people with virtual impunity.”
— NQAPIA (@NQAPIA) April 14, 2016
— Diane Wong (@XpertDemon) April 14, 2016
Justice for #AkaiGurley also means an end to Chinese&Asian participation in antiBlack policing apparatus! Refuse to be servitors of empire!
— kat yang-stevens (@greencircleas) April 14, 2016
An AAPI affiliated group, 18 Million Rising, also released a video last week to highlight AAPI voices calling for police accountability and solidarity with #blacklivesmatter:
“If we believe in racial justice, we cannot excuse an officer for killing an innocent, unarmed Black man and failing to provide medical help – just because he is Chinese like us,” said the Chinese Progressive Association in an official statement, “Instead, we should unite our community to fight for the indictment of white officers, or those of any race, and stand in solidarity with other communities of color who demand justice for all victims.”
We will know if these voices are heard shortly.