The rookie cop who killed an unarmed Akai Gurley in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project escaped jail time on Tuesday as scores of his supporters and protesters rallied outside the courthouse.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun sentenced Peter Liang to five years probation and 800 hours of community service after Liang pleaded his case.
“Growing up my parents thought it was a foolish dream that I wanted to become a police officer. When I graduated from the academy it was a dream come true,” Liang told the judge, before apologizing to Gurley’s family.
“The shot was accidental,” he said. “My life is forever changed. I hope I have a chance to rebuild it.”
Liang, 28, was convicted in February of manslaughter — a charge that could have resulted in up to 15 years in prison. Chun reduced the charge to criminally negligent homicide at the sentencing.
“There’s no evidence Peter Liang was aware of Akai Gurley’s presence,” Chun said.
Other protesters left shouting “bulls—! This is bulls—! The system is f—ed up.”
Outside the courthouse, about 100 Liang supporters and 60 protesters traded chants — with Liang supporters chanting “Condolences to Akai, Justice for Liang,” and the protesters yelling, “They think it’s a game, they think it’s a joke!”
“We are sick and tired of police officers not being held accountable for the killing of civilians,” said 34-year-old protester Rodrigo Starz.
Gurley’s family had called for prison time for the cop, but in a surprise move, Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson asked the judge not to put Liang behind bars.
“Because the incarceration of the defendant is not necessary to protect the public, and because of the unique circumstances of this case, the People do not believe that a prison sentence is warranted,” Thompson wrote in a letter to Chun last month.
The DA noted mitigating circumstances in Liang’s favor, including that he’d been on the street for less than a year, was patrolling a darkened stairwell to protect residents of an East Brooklyn housing project, and there was no evidence he’d intended to kill Gurley, who’d been in the stairwell two flights below.
Thompson, who was not in the courtroom for the sentencing, recommended Liang receive a sentence of six months house arrest, 500 hours of community service and five years’ probation.
In a statement after the sentencing, he chided the judge for his decision to reduce the conviction to criminally negligent homicide.
Read more- Source:nydailynews