Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson is urging a judge to go easy on the rookie cop from Bensonhurst who was convicted on manslaughter charges last month for fatally shooting and failing to aid an unarmed black man.
In a statement released today, Thompson recommended probation and house arrest for ex-officer Peter Liang, since the killing was an accident. Below is a full transcript:
“Peter Liang was indicted, prosecuted and subsequently convicted by a jury because his reckless actions caused an innocent man to lose his life. There is no evidence, however, that he intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley. When Mr. Liang went into that building that night, he did so as part of his job and to keep the people of Brooklyn and our city safe.
In sentencing a defendant, the facts of the crime and the particular characteristics of that person must be considered. Mr. Liang has no prior criminal history and poses no future threat to public safety. Because his incarceration is not necessary to protect the public, and due to the unique circumstances of this case, a prison sentence is not warranted.
Justice will be best served if Mr. Liang is sentenced to five years of probation, with the condition that he serves six months of home confinement with electric monitoring and performs 500 hours of community service. I have provided this sentencing recommendation to Justice Chun.
As I have said before, there are no winners here. But the sentence that I have requested is just and fair under the circumstances of this case. From the beginning, this tragic case has always been about justice and not about revenge.”
As we’ve reported, Liang was on a vertical patrol in a dark stairwell of East New York’s Pink Houses with his gun drawn when he says it accidentally fired and his bullet ricocheted off a wall, striking Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old father of two.
Liang’s indictment occurred amid a national conversation about policing in black communities, and contrasted sharply with the outcomes of other cases regarding black men who died in the police custody — such as the cases of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Missouri.
At the trial, prosecutors charged that Liang and his partner failed to immediately call for help or administer aid to the dying man. The defense noted that the killing was an accident and that Liang was wracked with guilt since the incident.
In the aftermath of Liang’s conviction, there was a large outcry from Asian communities in New York City and across the globe, who saw the Liang case as an instance of unequal justice. Thousands attended protests in Sunset Park and Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza demanding fair treatment for the Asian American ex-officer.
A Change.org petition pleading for Supreme Court Justice Danny Chung to be lenient in sentencing the ex-cop collected nearly 25,000 signatures, and 124,000 people signed a “We The People” petition calling on The White House to order Thompson to withdraw the charges against Liang.
“We have no role in the decision of a state or local prosecutor to prosecute or not prosecute a case, and so we are not in a position to address the specific request of the petition,” responded The White House.
Liang will be sentenced on April 14.