Home News No prison time for NYPD officer in Akai Gurley stairwell shooting case

No prison time for NYPD officer in Akai Gurley stairwell shooting case

94
0
SHARE

NEW YORK (AP) — A former police officer convicted in the shooting death of an unarmed man in a darkened stairwell was spared prison time Tuesday, and a judge reduced his manslaughter conviction to a lesser charge.

Peter Liang was sentenced to five years’ probation and 800 hours of community service in the 2014 shooting of Akai Gurley, who was walking down a stairway in a public housing complex when the rookie officer fired a bullet into the dark — by accident after being startled, he said. The bullet ricocheted and killed Gurley, 28.

FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2016 file photo, former New York City police officer Peter Liang, center, returns to the courtroom after a break in his trial on charges in the shooting death of Akai Gurley, at Brooklyn Supreme court in New York. Liang was fired from the police force shortly after the February jury verdict in the death of Gurley. Liang will find out if he's going to prison during sentencing on Tuesday, April 19, following his manslaughter conviction in the accidental shooting death of the unarmed man in a darkened stairwell. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
FILE – In this Feb. 9, 2016 file photo, former New York City police officer Peter Liang, center, returns to the courtroom after a break in his trial on charges in the shooting death of Akai Gurley, at Brooklyn Supreme court in New York. Liang was fired from the police force shortly after the February jury verdict in the death of Gurley. Liang will find out if he’s going to prison during sentencing on Tuesday, April 19, following his manslaughter conviction in the accidental shooting death of the unarmed man in a darkened stairwell. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

“Given the defendant’s background and how remorseful he is, it would not be necessary to incarcerate the defendant to have a just sentence in this case,” Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun said in sentencing Liang, also 28.

A jury had convicted him in February of a manslaughter charge carrying up to 15 years in prison. But Chun on Tuesday reduced the offense to criminally negligent homicide, which carries up to four years in prison.

Brooklyn prosecutors recommended Liang serve no time, based on his record and the circumstances of the trial. They suggested five years of probation, six months of home confinement and 500 hours of community service.

FILE- In this Jan. 29, 2015 file photo, Kimberly Ballinger, the domestic partner of Akai Gurley and mother of his toddler daughter, hold a news conference in New York. Former New York City police officer Peter Liang will find out if he's going to prison during sentencing on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, following his February 2016 manslaughter conviction in the accidental shooting death of the unarmed man, Gurley, in a darkened stairwell. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
FILE- In this Jan. 29, 2015 file photo, Kimberly Ballinger, the domestic partner of Akai Gurley and mother of his toddler daughter, hold a news conference in New York. Former New York City police officer Peter Liang will find out if he’s going to prison during sentencing on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, following his February 2016 manslaughter conviction in the accidental shooting death of the unarmed man, Gurley, in a darkened stairwell. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

Some members of Gurley’s family said they felt betrayed by Thompson’s recommendation and had hoped Chun would sentence Liang to prison anyway.

The shooting happened in a year of debate nationwide about police killings of black men. Activists have looked to Liang’s trial as a counterweight to cases in which grand juries have declined to indict officers, including the cases of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York. Like Gurley, Brown and Garner were black and unarmed. Liang is Chinese-American.

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson cautioned that Liang’s case shouldn’t be commingled with others. But relatives of other New Yorkers killed in police encounters had joined Gurley’s family outside court during the trial to call for police accountability.

Meanwhile, Liang’s supporters have said he has been made a scapegoat for past injustices.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here