UPDATE: The judge agreed with the DA’s recommendation and sentenced NYPD officer Peter Liang, who shot and killed unarmed, innocent Akai Gurly, to zero jail time.
In doing so, the judge tossed the second degree manslaughter charge, of which Liang was convicted by a jury of his peers, and reduced it to criminally negligent homicide, telling the court that he believed that the DA’s office did not provide sufficient evidence to prove the higher charge.
The Judge said he found the prosecutor’s sentencing recommendation of five years probation “entirely and completely appropriate.” The Brooklyn District Attorney argued that Liang was “redeemable” and “should not be held accountable for the misconduct of other officers.”
Akai’s family left the sentencing hearing sobbing.
Previous story below:
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson has recommended that Peter Liang, the former NYPD officer convicted in shooting and killing unarmed Akai Gurley in an East New York housing project in November 2014, be sentenced to five years of probation rather than serving any time in prison.
Liang was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Gurley in February of this year and faces up to 15 years in prison. Thompson issued a statement explain his decision that read:
“Peter Liang was indicted, prosecuted and subsequently convicted by a jury because his 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. In sentencing a defendant, the facts of the crime and the particular characteristics of that person must be considered. Mr. 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. Justice will be best served if Mr. Liang is sentenced to five years of probation, with the condition that he serves six months of home confinement with electric monitoring and performs 500 hours of community service. I have provided this sentencing recommendation to Justice Chun. As I have said before, there are no winners here. But 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.”
He said Liang poses no future threat to the public so jail is not warranted. He promised Liang would commit to the full five years of probation with home confinement and electric monitoring.
“As I have said before, there are no winners here,” Thompson told the press. “But the sentence that I have requested is just and fair under the circumstances of this case.”
The DA did not mention if he will be recommending probation instead of prison for civilians convicted of manslaughter going forward.
Peter Liang was on the force for only 18 months when he shot and killed 28-year-old Akai Gurley in a dark stairwell of the Louis Pink Houses in Brooklyn. Neither Liang nor his partner assisted Gurley after he was shot. Liang called his union representative instead of an ambulance. Liang was convicted early February by a jury of his peers. However, he has appealed that decision.