A Brooklyn judge on Tuesday threw out the manslaughter conviction of New York City police officer Peter Liang for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man that sparked emotional protests from both sides of the controversial case.
Liang, 28, could have faced up to 15 years in prison for manslaughter. Judge Danny Chun reduced the jury’s conviction to criminally negligent homicide. Chun sentenced Liang to five years probation and 800 hours of community service.
Liang was on patrol in a housing project in November 2014 when he said he drew and accidentally fired his weapon in a stairwell. Akai Gurley, 28, was killed by the ricocheting bullet. Liang, who is Chinese-American, was convicted of manslaughter in February and subsequently fired.
Gurley’s relatives started a Facebook page titled “Justice for Akai Gurley Family” that has drawn more than 1,300 likes. A post entitled “Pack the Court. Pack the Street” encouraged supporters to gather at the courthouse during Tuesday’s sentencing to “demand accountability for the unjust killing.”
Liang has his own supporters. His conviction prompted a protest in Brooklyn that drew thousands of them, including many Chinese-Americans. Similar protests took place in San Francisco and elsewhere, pressing a complaint that a Chinese-American officer should not be convicted of a crime when white officers seldom are convicted or even tried in shooting cases.
Last month, Brooklyn prosecutor Ken Thompson announced he would recommend six months of home confinement, five years probation and 500 hours of community service.
“His incarceration is not necessary to protect the public, and due to the unique circumstances of this case, a prison sentence is not warranted,” Thompson said. “There are no winners here.”
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Article and Picture Courtesy of WKYC Channel 3 News Cleveland