BROOKLYN SUPREME COURT — A Brooklyn judge will determine Tuesday the fate of the ex-NYPD officer convicted of fatally shooting unarmed Akai Gurley in a public housing stairwell almost 18 months ago.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun is expected to heed Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson’s recommendation and spare Peter Liang prison time after his manslaughter conviction for fatally shooting Gurley in the Pink Houses in November 2014.
Gurley’s family last week ripped Thompson, who aggressively sought an indictment in the case, for only asking for house arrest and community service as Liang’s sentence.
“You have sent a wrong message,” Gurley’s aunt, Hertencia Petersen, railed during a rally outside Brooklyn Supreme Court. “This is unacceptable. This is a disgrace to your legacy. This should not have happened.”
Testimony during the trial supported Liang's assertion that the gun went off accidentally, however it also came to light that the former officer did not assist the dying man after the shooting.
Chun rejected the defense's motion for a mistrial last Thursday after Liang’s lawyer, Paul Shechtman, charged that juror Michael Vargas had an axe to grind with police and lied during voir dire to get on the panel.
Shechtman pointed to some seemingly anti-police Facebook posts from Vargas and said that he lied about his dad’s manslaughter conviction for killing a friend years ago.
But Chun threw that out last week, ruling that Vargas never intentionally deceived the court.
The family is expected to give a victim-impact statement before Chun hands down his sentence.