Peter Liang, the rookie cop who killed unarmed Akai Gurley in a Brooklyn housing project stairwell back in November 2014 dodged prison time today after being convicted of manslaughter in February of 2016. Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun reduced Liang’s charge to criminally negligent homicide at the sentencing, which will have him serve five years probation along with 800 hours of community service. The original charge of manslaughter carried a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Chun stated that he did not believe Liang had any intentions of killing Gurley when he entered the Pink Houses and adjusted the sentencing based on those grounds.
“There’s no evidence Peter Liang was aware of Akai Gurley’s presence. I looked at the video of Peter Liang entering the Pink Houses that night and he entered with a good frame of mind. Shooting and killing someone was the last thing on his mind. Incarceration is not necessary.”
Hertencia Peterson, Gurley’s aunt, stormed out of the courtroom after the announcement shouting: “Akai’s life doesn’t matter. There’s not justice. Black lives don’t matter. Justice will be served one way or another.” This was augmented by protesters outside of the courthouse who shouted “bullsh*t! This is bullsh*t! The system is f**ked up.” There were also supporters of Liang outside of the courthouse that had chants of “Condolences to Akai, Justice for Liang.”
Peter Liang and his partner were patrolling Brooklyn’s Pink Houses on November 20th 2014 when the incident occurred. Liang testified that he had his gun drawn as they entered the dark stairwell and heard a loud noise from the stairwell door closing, which startled him and “then the gun just went off,” he said. The bullet ricocheted off the wall and struck Gurley in the chest. The victim’s friend, Melissa Butler, tried desperately to save his life with CPR, while Liang and his partner stood by and argued about who should report the shooting. In court, when asked why he did not try to help Butler revive Gurley, Liang said “I didn’t know if I could do it better than her.”