A Brooklyn judge ruled yesterday that former NYPD Officer Peter Liang would not serve any jail time for the November 2014 fatal shooting of 28-year-old Akai Gurley in an apartment building stairwell.
The New York Times reports that in February, a Brooklyn jury found Liang guilty of manslaughter and official misconduct, for which he faced up to 15 years in prison. However, Tuesday afternoon, Justice Danny Chun reduced the charges to criminally negligent homicide and sentenced Liang to five years probation and 800 hours of community service.
“This was not an intentional act,” Chun said. “This was a criminally negligent act. As such, I find incarceration not necessary.”
Liang was patrolling the stairwell in Gurley’s Brooklyn apartment building the night of November 20, 2014 when Gurley and his girlfriend, Melissa Butler, entered the stairs three stories below. Liang, who for reasons unknown was patrolling with his gun drawn, discharged his weapon. The bullet ricocheted off of the cinderblock wall and fatally struck Gurley. Butler said that Liang stood by for minutes, refusing to administer the proper medical attention to Gurley.
“You took a piece of me,” Butler said to Gurley yesterday at the sentencing. “You took a piece of my heart.”
Shortly before the reduced charges were announced, Liang stood up to address Gurley’s family members, who were seated in the audience.
“The shot was accidental,” he said. “My life has forever changed.”
District attorney Ken Thompson, who shocked activists earlier this year when he recommended no prison time for Liang, said yesterday that he would seek to overturn the judge’s reduced charges.