In Brooklyn, a judge has sentenced former NYPD officer Peter Liang to serve no jail time for killing unarmed African-American father Akai Gurley. In 2014, Liang shot 28-year-old Gurley in the darkened stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. Gurley was walking down the stairs with his girlfriend because the elevator was broken. Following the shooting, Liang first texted his union representative before making a radio call for help as Gurley lay dying. Liang had faced up to 15 years in prison on second-degree murder charges. But on Tuesday, Judge Danny Chun sentenced him to serve only five years’ probation and 800 hours of community service. Judge Chun also made the rare decision to reduce Officer Liang’s verdict from manslaughter charges to the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide. Following the announcement, Akai Gurley’s aunt, Hertencia Petersen, spoke out.
Hertencia Petersen: “This is not justice. This is not justice. My family is going to continue, we’re going to continue to be in these streets. We’re going to continue to march 'til we get justice. We're going to continue until all black lives matter. How on Earth can you guys say it’s OK to murder and not be held accountable?”
After the announcement, protesters gathered outside the home of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, who had recommended Officer Liang serve no jail time.
Protesters: “Ken Thompson will not sleep tonight! Police murders must stop! Serve jail time! Killer cops, go to jail!”
Seven people were arrested protesting outside District Attorney Thompson’s house. Thompson has said he’ll appeal the decision to reduce Officer Liang’s conviction from manslaughter to criminally negligent homicide.