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No Prison for Peter Liang in Akai Gurley KIlling

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…

No prison for ex-NYPD officer in fatal stairwell shooting

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.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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Peter Liang, Akai Gurley, and Why Asians Are Still Black in America

Peter Liang about 2 moths ago became the first NYC Law enforcement officer to be convicted of murdering an unarmed citizen in 10 years…Despite numerous egregious cases of police misconduct and outright murder in NYC – was Liang’s prosecution and conviction based on just timing, or race? NYC Police and Fire Unions have a long, long, history of racism. Such racism is even reported by Officers on the force.

Funny how only a minority cop can get convicted and go to a speedy trial without the Police Department “analyzing” the data for 2 years.

The case adds another twist to the intense debate about race and policing.

On February 11, Peter Liang became a rare statistic: He was the first New York City police officer in more than a decade to be found guilty of shooting and killing a citizen while on duty. Liang, who is Chinese American, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and one count of official misconduct for the shooting of Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old black man and father, during an encounter in a Brooklyn housing project. In the post-Ferguson era, the case has added another twist to the intense ongoing debate about race and accountability in policing.

On the night of November 20, 2014, Gurley and a friend had just entered an unlit stairwell on the seventh floor of their building. Liang, a 28-year-old rookie cop, was on the stairwell landing above with his partner, on a “vertical patrol” assignment. Liang had his gun drawn, his attorneys told jurors, because the stairwell was dark and police officers are trained that this can be dangerous—for New York cops on vertical patrol, lack of lighting is commonly perceived as a sign of criminal activity. When Liang heard a noise come from below, he testified, he was startled and pulled the trigger of his gun by accident. The bullet ricocheted off a wall along the landing below where Gurley stood, mortally wounding him. Liang told jurors that he did not realize he had shot anyone until he went down the stairs looking for the bullet. Liang said that when he discovered Gurley bleeding on the ground, “I was panicking. I was in shock, in disbelief that someone was actually hit.”

In the aftermath, New York Police commissioner William Bratton told reporters that the shooting appeared “to be an accidental discharge, with no intention to strike anybody.” But during the trial, prosecutors zeroed in on evidence that Liang failed to administer immediate medical aid as Gurley lay bleeding to death, instead arguing with his partner over whether to call their supervisor. Gurley’s friend attempted to give him CPR after receiving instructions from a 911 dispatcher. Liang testified that he tried to request an ambulance over the radio. Transcripts from radio calls, however, did not show him calling for one.

Liang, whose sentencing is scheduled for April 14, was fired from the department and initially faced up to 15 years in prison. In late March, however, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced that he would not seek prison time for Liang. Thompson instead recommended five years of probation, including six months of home confinement, citing “the unique circumstances” of the case. On Tuesday, Liang’s lawyers asked a judge to throw out Liang’s conviction, alleging jury misconduct.

In the view of his supporters and some former prosecutors, Liang’s conviction is a glaring anomalyamong cops who have killed unarmed civilians, the vast majority of whom don’t face criminal charges. Kenneth Montgomery, a former assistant prosecutor in Brooklyn and now a defense attorney, found the conviction somewhat surprising. “When you look at the spectrum of police shooting cases, this seemed to be—I want to be careful because all of these cases are of public concern—less egregious than Anthony Baez, Amadou Diallo,” he says. “It seemed to me that the defense had a lot to work with.”

Many believe Liang’s race was a factor. On February 20, in the wake of Liang’s guilty verdict, thousands of people—many of them Asian American—gathered in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, DC, to protest. Demonstrators charged that Liang was not afforded the same protections as other officers because of the color of his skin. Former New York City Comptroller John Liu echoed this sentiment in a speech to the crowd: “Shocking! This is not manslaughter…We kind of had a sense in our hearts that this was going to be the result, because for 150 years, there has been a common phrase in America. This phrase is called ‘Not a Chinaman’s chance.'” As the writer Jay Caspian Kang noted in a New York Times essay, the Liang protests marked “the most pivotal moment in the Asian American community since the Rodney King riots.”

Some of Liang’s supporters compared him to past Asian American victims of police brutality, and even went so far as to suggest that both Liang and Gurley were victims of the same kind of oppression. That rhetoric quickly drew heat from Black Lives Matter activists and supporters—including many Asian Americans—who found it offensive and misguided. “[I don’t care] how many “black lives matter” signs were flying at the Peter Liang protest,” organizer Johnetta Elzie tweeted. “That’s rooted in anti-blackness + supporting white supremacy.” Kang described the reactions from some Asian Americans as “the stunted language of a people who do not yet know how to talk about injustice”:

The protesters who took to the streets on Saturday are trying, in their way, to create a new political language for Asian Americans, but this language comes without any edifying history—no amount of nuance or qualification or appeal to Martin Luther King will change the fact that the first massive, nationwide Asian American protest in years was held in defense of a police officer who shot and killed an innocent black man….And yet it would be catastrophic to ignore the protesters’ concerns altogether.

Liang’s conviction is indeed rare for cops. “Ten years ago, he wouldn’t have been prosecuted,” Stephen Saltzburg, a George Washington University law professor, toldThe Atlantic. “And if he was, they would have acquitted him.”…Read the Rest Here

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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Chinese Americans Protest Conviction of Officer Who Killed Akai Gurley

Guess I am not the only one to notice the only officer getting convicted in NYC is non-white.

How Chinese American protesters are invoking Black Lives Matter

Jam-packed in a Brooklyn plaza Saturday, thousands of New York City’s Chinese American residents gathered to protest the conviction of former police officer Peter Liang, who fatally shot Akai Gurley, an unarmed black man, in 2014.

Mr. Liang was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter two weeks ago and faces up to 15 years in prison. But the roughly 10,000 protesters argue that the police department had unfairly sent Liang, who at the time of the incident was a rookie on the force, into a violence-ridden housing project.

They say that he is victim of prejudice himself, amid a criminal justice system that favors white officers like Daniel Pantaleo, who choked Eric Garner to death and yet eluded indictment.

Bearing signs that read “No Scapegoat!” and “One Tragedy, Two Victims,” the protesters – some of whom travelled from Connecticut and New Jersey – drew a connection between the fate of Liang and some of the recent deaths of unarmed African Americans at the hand of the police.

As reported by Gothamist, former City Comptroller John Liu addressed the thundering crowd, highlighting this link.

We understand the pain among our African-American brothers and sisters, who have witnessed the killing of one unarmed black man after another in continuous succession, with no prosecutions against the officers,” he said.

“So in an incident where an Asian-American officer shoots his gun, not aiming at anybody, shoots it by accident, we were all shocked last Thursday, when the guilty verdict came out,” he went on. “But were we really shocked?”

“For 150 years, there’s been a common phrase in America: ‘Not a Chinaman’s chance,’ which means if you’re Chinese in America, there’s no hope for you.”

But prosecutors characterized Liang’s conduct as reckless when he opened fire inside the Louis H. Pink Houses, arguing that he was also unsympathetic to Mr. Gurley after the shooting.

“While we know that Peter Liang did not intend to kill Akai Gurley, he was convicted because his reckless actions cost an innocent man his life,” Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson told NBC News in an email statement Friday.

“This case is about what happened in Brooklyn, not Ferguson or Staten Island, and the jury convicted on the basis of these unique and tragic facts. My office will continue to pursue equal justice for all of Brooklyn.”

And the protest wasn’t met with unequivocal support. A simultaneous counter-protest emphasized the injustice of Gurley’s death and the importance of punishment. Members of an Asian American organization known as CAAAV were among those supporting Black Lives Matter activists in backing Liang’s conviction.

Soraya Sui Free, a nurse from the Bronx, was one of the participants in the counter-protest. She stood with a group donning signs that said, “Jail Killer Cops.”

Where is the empathy?” she said to The New York Times. “Peter Liang made a decision for Akai Gurley, and that decision was to die.”…More

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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NYPD Cop Found Guilty in Akai Gurley Murder

The NYC Prosecutors finally convict a cop…Of course the convicted cop is a minority, which unfortunately may have something to do with the willingness to prosecute.

A Guilty Verdict in the Akai Gurley Case

A Brooklyn jury convicts Officer Peter Liang of manslaughter and official misconduct in the 2014 shooting.

A New York jury found an officer guilty on Thursday for the 2014 shooting and death of Akai Gurley, an unarmed black man killed in the stairwell of a Brooklyn apartment building.

The Brooklyn Supreme Court found Officer Peter Liang guilty of manslaughter and official misconduct, for shooting, then failing to help Gurley after he lay dying. Liang had faced five counts in all, including assault, reckless endangerment, and criminal negligent homicide.

The trial went to jury Tuesday. At closing arguments, Liang’s lawyers asked the judge to declare a mistrial, saying the prosecution made an “inflammatory and inappropriate” argument when they said Liang intentionally shot Gurley.

He chose to point his gun,” said the prosecutor, Joseph Alexis. “He chose to put his finger on the trigger, to fire the gun.”

“What happened here is a tragedy,” argued Rae Koshetz, one of Liang’s attorneys. “It’s a terrible tragedy, but it’s not a crime.”

Liang shot Gurley, a 28-year-old father of two in a dark hallway of a public-housing building. The rookie officer and his parter were on a routine patrol of the Louis H. Pink Houses when they opened a door to the stairwell on the eighth floor. With the lights out, Liang unholstered his 9mm Glock handgun and held a flashlight. When he walked into the stairwell, Liang told jurors he heard a “quick” sound that startled him, “and the gun just went off after I tensed up.”

The defense had argued that unholstering the gun––despite no obvious threat––fell in line with protocol, because the building was known to be dangerous. They said as he entered, Liang held his finger off the trigger, just as he was supposed to.

Liang’s willingness to walk around a public-housing building with a drawn weapon raised the issue of reasonable force––something that has played out across the nation and has gained increasing attention amid the shootings by police of unarmed black men and women. In this case, the prosecution argued that Liang’s decision to to unholster his gun was “reckless and deadly choice.”

Just before Liang fired, Gurley and his girlfriend, Melissa Butler, had walked into the stairwell one floor below. The elevator was out. As Liang’s gun fired, the bullet hit Gurley in the chest.

Liang said he wasn’t immediately aware of this. Not yet. While Butler screamed and ran to find help and a phone, Liang and his partner, Shaun Landau, walked back into the hallway they’d come from and debated who would call in to report that Liang had fired his gun. It was only after Liang went to search for his bullet that he heard someone crying, he said. It was then he he realized what had happened.

But even then, neither Liang nor Landau tried to save Gurley. Instead, the prosecution said Liang worried “whether his mistake would cost him his job,” asThe New York Times wrote

Liang will be sentenced on April 14. He faces 15 years in prison.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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