Not sure if I am 100% certain this is just in light of the mass police shootings of unarmed black men this year. But on the flip side, the evidence is that the shooting was accidental…
Aformer 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.
“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.
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.