*“Shooting somebody never entered his mind. I find incarceration to be unnecessary.” These were the words that came from the mouth of Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, the judge who handed down a sentence of five years probation and 800 hours of community service to former NYC rookie cop, Peter Liang, for the fatal shooting of Akai Gurley.
Gurley had been standing on the landing below, when Peter Liang and his partner entered a darkened stairwell at Pink Houses, most likely a “project-type” community in East New York, known for its bad reputation.
The officers are said to have entered the building around 11:15 p.m. on Nov. 20, 2014, and heard a metal door slam; which startled them and caused Liang’s service gun to go off — accidentally and fatally shooting Akai Gurley, who was standing on a landing below.
Brooklyn D.A. Ken Thompson had requested a no jail sentence for the former cop, and apparently got his wish.
The jury’s finding on manslaughter was also downgraded by Chun to the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide. Had the finding stayed, the officer would more than likely have faced upwards of 15-years in jail.
Chun stated, there was “no evidence, either direct or circumstantial, that the defendant was aware of Akai Gurley’s presence and therefore disregarded any risk [to him].’’
Gurley’s family, present in the courtroom, was outraged at the slight. With Gurley’s aunt, Hertencia Peterson saying, “So you’re telling me it’s OK for a black man in America, good ol’ America, to get murdered, and these officers who took an oath to serve and protect are not being held accountable?”
Sounds about right, Ms. Peterson.
The aunt left the court declaring, “But don’t worry, what goes around, comes around. Sooner or later, Peter Liang, if not him in his lifetime, someone in his family, is going to feel our pain.”
Prior to his sentencing, Liang, who will never be able to work as a policeman again (something that I am sure is an embarrassment to his family, based on the Asian culture) apologized to both Gurley’s girlfriend and the mother of his 3-year-old daughter.
“I’m not a man of many words,” he said in a soft spoken voice. “The shot was an accident.”’