Peter Liang was a rookie NYPD officer walking the stairs of the Pink Houses in New York City. After hearing a noise, he drew his gun, pulled his trigger after being startled and the bullet ricocheted and hit Akai Gurley, 28, in the chest. Liang and his partner then debated over who should report the shot before discovering Gurley’s body.
In February, Liang was convicted on a charge of manslaughter. Yesterday, April 19, he evaded jail time completely and was sentenced to 800 hours of community service by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun.
“There’s no evidence Peter Liang was aware of Akai Gurley’s presence,” Chun said, according to New York Daily News. “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.”
Many reactions came as a result of the sentencing. Those that supported Liang celebrated and rallied because they felt he was being unfairly treated as an example because he’s Asian American. Others were shaken and even devastated at what they felt was an example of even a convicted police officer being given an out after taking the life of an unarmed black citizen. Including some Asian American organizations, such as Asian Americans United, which released a public statement condemning the sentencing.
“Akai’s life doesn’t matter. There’s not justice,” said Gurley’s aunt, Hertencia Peterson. “Black lives don’t matter. Justice will be served one way or another.”
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