Indictment Of Chinese American Cop Sparks Outcry, Divides Communities

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The recent indictment of a Chinese American officer from Bensonhurst in the death of Akai Gurley weighed on the minds of many during this year’s Lunar New Year celebrations.

While the charges brought against Officer Peter Liang hit particularly hard for Bensonhurst’s Chinese American community, which had just mourned the death of Detective Wenjian Liu, opinions are pretty divided. Today’s New York Times reports on the debate going on within the city’s Chinese American communities:

Some have hesitated, reluctant to find politics or racial discrimination in the indictment of Officer Liang. Others have hailed the charges against him as a means of improving relations between the police and all minorities. But for some, the indictment is nothing less than the scapegoating of a young officer whose parents may have to live without their only son — and a call to arms for a minority group that has never been as politically active as blacks or Hispanics.

“We don’t want to be pushed around anymore, or picked on anymore,” Mr. Gim said. “We’re going to fight back.”

Meanwhile, a White House petition to support Officer Liang has been circulating on Facebook and the Chinese social media app WeChat, garnering over 117,000 signatures nationwide. In addition, Free Officer Liang pages have popped up on Facebook.

The petition demands that Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson withdraw the indictment against Officer Liang and accuses prosecutors of scapegoating the rookie cop for political gain.

Officer Liang was indicted on February 11 on manslaughter charges, after he fired his weapon into a dark stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project and his ricocheting bullet killed Gurley, an unarmed father-of-two. Commissioner Bill Bratton, police unions, and the mayor have called the shooting an accident, while Gurley’s family have demanded a homicide indictment.

Prosecutors’ success at indicting Officer Liang – who did not intend to kill Gurley – stands in sharp contrast to cases against the officers connected to the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, who were allowed to walk free despite witnesses and video evidence, sparking angry protests in Ferguson and New York.

The Times also published a powerful piece focusing on the Pink Houses in East New York, where Gurley was shot and where many resident are still shaken by the incident. There too, residents were divided and expressed frustration about out the arbitrariness of the legal justice system.

It did not go unnoticed that while Officer Liang is an officer of color, the uncharged officers involved in the deaths of Brown and Garner are white:

For Gregory Rosario, 24, the confusion about what exactly had happened in the stairwell made it all the more ironic that Officer Liang, a Chinese-American, was the only officer who would face charges.

“You think if the officer’s not a minority, he would get indicted?” said Mr. Rosario, who grew up in the Pink Houses. “If he was Caucasian, he wouldn’t be indicted. In Eric Garner, they had everything on the table and they didn’t do anything. Here there’s no video, no proof, but they indicted him.”

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  • ChuckieP

    Wow, didn’t this guy call his union instead of an ambulance?

    • luciaQ

      From what I read, at first he didnt realize that someone was shot, he discussed with the other cop about the accidental firing, then went downstairs to search for the bullet, that’s when he found out that someone was shot. He called emergency immediately, but didn’t perform CPR, as he was not properly trained on that, which is the NYPD’s responsibility.

  • ROSALIE907

    That’s correct and he didn’t even try to perform CPR. Also, keep in mind this is Brooklyn and Garner’s murder was on SI, 2 worlds apart.

    • luciaQ

      He wasn’t properly trained on CPR, and it was NYDP’s responsibility that rookies who were not properly trained were sent to tasks like this.

  • Ian Curtis

    Sorry people, this officer did SO many things wrong that it’s almost too ridiculous to believe. He was patrolling with a loaded gun out AND his finger on the trigger AND the safety off. Absolutely absurd and beyond understandable. THEN he accidentally shoots a person and fails to even try to perform. He actually calls his union rep first!
    While I would love to support someone who truly did no wrong, this case was a bit different. The officer messed up multiple times.

    Even a police officer cannot walk around with his finger on the trigger of a gun with the safety off for no reason (he wasn’t being threatened or in a deadly situation).
    In the Garner case the move that took him down would not ave killed 99.9% of the population. The man’s health was a major contributor to his own death. Sorry, but there shouldn’t be “special” rules for someone just because he’s overweight and unhealthy.
    As for the Brown case out in Missouri: give me a break. The evidence has proved the officer told the truth, and that young thug died the way he lived, violently.

    • Inquisitive

      I’m so close to agreeing with you. We agree on the Gurley case. Its inexcusable what the officer did. I almost agree about the Brown case but I don’t really want to get into that. It can go either way to me. Wilson has a shaky history and cops have been known to cover for each other so the evidence is suspect to me. The Garner case, however, we see things differently. So what if he was out of shape and unhealthy. America as whole, is mostly out of shape and unhealthy, so your 99.9% assumption is awful considering the terrible health of the average American citizen. Also, the move was illegal, or banned, in 1993. If its banned, once could argue (whether correct or not) that the officer intended to kill by using an illegal tactic to subdue a citizen. Why do you think it was banned in the first place?

      Another thing…what is a thug in your opinion. I see the word thrown around a lot and quite curious. I’ve seen it used when regarding a person like Richard Sherman, who is a Stanford graduate, someone who gives back to the community and law-abiding citizen and I’ve seen it used on people like Brown and Trayvon Martin, who were doing nothing wrong AT THE TIME OF THEIR INCIDENTS but were labeled thugs although (and I may be wrong) did not have any actual criminal history. Hell, Brown was starting college in the fall. He was doing SOMETHING right. So I’m curious…what’s a thug to you?

    • luciaQ

      Truth is he didn’t even know at first that there was a person got shot, he called emergency immediately

  • luciaQ

    This is a tragic accident but not crime! My heart goes to the Gurley family, but making liang a scapegoat does not bring the true justice to black people. Previous cases where innocent unarmed black people were killed by cops need to be reinvestigated, yet Justice need to be brought to Liang. Defining such an accident as a crime will place police and communities in danger in the future.