Akai Gurley’s family is heartbroken today after a judge sentenced Former NYPD Officer Peter Liang to five years probation and 800 hours of community service for the November 2014 fatal shooting.
“Today, justice was not served,” Gurley’s aunt, Hertencia Petersen, told reporters. “Another Black man has been murdered by the police department and the officer is not being held accountable and we’re going to continue to fight until we get justice.”
Gurley was killed at the Louis H. Pink Houses in Brooklyn after entering the seventh floor stairwell with his girlfriend, 14 steps below Liang and his partner. Startled, Liang discharged his weapon, killing Gurley with a ricocheted bullet just days before Thanksgiving.
Liang was convicted of manslaughter in February and faced up to 15 years in prison. However, Brooklyn D.A. Kenneth Thompson recommended the former officer be spared from prison time because “the incarceration of the defendant is not necessary to protect the public.” Apparently, the judge also agreed.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun not only sentenced Liang to probation, but also reduced his conviction from manslaughter to criminally negligent homicide.
“There’s no evidence Peter Liang was aware of Akai Gurley’s presence,” Chun explained. “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.”
For Gurley’s family and supporters, Chun’s ruling was a slap in the face.
“Akai’s life doesn’t matter. There’s not justice,” Petersen said. “Black lives don’t matter. Justice will be served one way or another.”