There may be no justice in the killing of Akai Gurley by a New York City police officer

There may be no justice in the killing of Akai Gurley by a New York City police officer March 23, 2016

Image: Public Domain
Image: Public Domain

Last month, former New York City police officer Peter Liang was convicted in the killing of Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old unarmed black man killed when the gun of Mr. Liang fired and a ricocheting bullet struck and killed Gurley.

Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson recommended that the former officer Liang, receive five years of probation, including six months of home confinement when he faces sentencing next month. Thompson said this case was about “justice and not about revenge.”

“Mr. Liang has no prior criminal history and poses no future threat to public safety,” Mr. Thompson’s statement said. “Because his incarceration is not necessary to protect the public, and due to the unique circumstances of this case, a prison sentence is not warranted.”

Mr. Liang was fired by the NYPD when he was convicted of manslaughter on February 11. The letter by the district attorney does not mean that Liang will not receive a more serious sentenced, but the recommendation is an insult to the family of Gurley.

Only a police officer could walk away from a manslaughter charge with probation. Federal sentencing guidelines recommend 10 to 16-month prison sentence, which increases if it was committed through an act of reckless conduct. While the officers intent may not have been malicious, consequences do have actions and the fact he was a police officer changes nothing.

This is not about revenge as Thompson implies, it’s about being held responsible for one’s actions. If the roles had been reversed, Gurley would not be recommended for probation, and it actually be facing a longer sentence in the killing of an officer.

This does not send a message that prosecutors are on the side of citizens. It strongly says that they will defy the law to protect police officers, even when indicted for crimes.

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