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Brooklyn DA Recommends No Jail for Ex-NYPD Officer Who Killed Unarmed Man

By Lili Holzer-Glier | March 23, 2016 7:12pm
 Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson requested that ex-NYPD officer Peter Liang be sentenced to probation and house confinement rather than jail time.
Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson requested that ex-NYPD officer Peter Liang be sentenced to probation and house confinement rather than jail time.
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Pool/Mary Altaffer

BROOKLYN — Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has requested that former NYPD officer Peter Liang serve no jail time ahead of his sentencing on a manslaughter and official misconduct conviction for killing unarmed Brooklyn man Akai Gurley.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, Thompson recommended Liang be sentenced to five years of probation with six months of ankle-monitored home confinement and 500 hours of community service.

Liang faces up to 15 years in prison after his conviction. He is scheduled to be sentenced April 14.

"There is no evidence ... that [Liang] intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley," said Thompson in a statement. "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."

AKAI GURLEY SHOOTING: Here's a Look Back at Peter Liang's Trial

On Nov. 20, 2014, Liang and his partner Shaun Landau were patrolling a poorly lit staircase in East New York’s Louis Pink Houses when a sound startled Liang and he fired his drawn weapon. The bullet ricocheted off a wall, striking and killing Gurley.

A jury found Liang guilty on Feb. 11, and he was promptly dismissed by the NYPD.

“Peter Liang was indicted, prosecuted and subsequently convicted by a jury because his reckless actions caused an innocent man to lose his life," Thompson said. But he added that he doesn't believe the ex-officer is a threat to society, making a prison sentence unwarranted.

In a statement made after Thompson's recommendation, Liang’s attorneys Gabriel Chin and Paul Shechtman — who had filed a motion to overturn the manslaughter conviction on March 15 — praised the DA's sentencing request.

“We steadfastly believe in Peter Liang’s innocence," the statement read. "Although we disagree with Mr. Thompson on the fundamental issue of Peter’s culpability, he deserves praise for his dispassionate and courageous decision that incarceration is not called for in this case.”

Members of Gurley's family expressed outrage and disbelief at the sentencing recommendation and said the “inadequate recommendation diminishes what Peter Liang did. It diminishes Akai’s death...Peter Liang has not served a single day in jail."

In addition to calling for Liang to "be held accountable," the family called on Thompson to "show us that he is a man of his word and that police officers are not above the law.”