Prosecutor Recommends No Jail Time for Cop Who Fatally Shot Akai Gurley

Brooklyn, N.Y., District Attorney Ken Thompson secured a conviction of manslaughter against former New York City Police Officer Peter Liang but has now recommended that Liang not serve jail time.

Akai Gurley
Akai Gurley Facebook

A New York prosecutor has recommended to the court that Peter Liang, the former police officer convicted of the 2014 fatal shooting of an unarmed Akai Gurley inside his apartment building, serve no jail time.

Instead, “Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson has recommended a sentence of five years of probation, including six months of home confinement with electronic monitoring and 500 hours of community service,” CNN reports.

“We are outraged at District Attorney Thompson’s inadequate sentencing recommendation,” Gurley’s family said in a statement viewed by the New York Daily News. “Officer Liang was convicted of manslaughter and should serve time in prison for his crime.”

In November 2014, Liang, a rookie cop with just over a year on the job, was patrolling a dark stairwell in a Brooklyn housing project when he fired his gun. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and struck Gurley in the chest. Both Liang and his partner, Shaun Landau, reportedly failed to attend to Gurley after he was shot. Both officers also reportedly failed to administer CPR to Gurley, who died later at a local hospital.  

“Mr. Liang has no prior criminal history and poses no future threat to public safety,” Thompson said in a statement Wednesday, CNN reports. “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.”

Liang, who was fired from the New York City Police Department and convicted of manslaughter Feb. 11, faces up to 15 years in prison when he’s sentenced next month.

“There is no evidence … that he intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley,” Thompson said in the statement, CNN reports. “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.”

Not everyone shares the district attorney’s belief. Loyda Colon, co-director of the Justice Committee, told the Daily News that Liang failed to follow protocol, and as a result, a man lost his life.  

“Liang entered a stairwell in the Pink Houses with his gun drawn—against NYPD protocol. He shot unarmed Akai Gurley, who was doing nothing wrong. Then he attempted to cover up his wrongdoing rather than assist Gurley, who lay dying on the floor,” Colon said. “These are criminal actions, for which Liang should be held accountable.”

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