The rookie police officer who shot and killed unarmed Brooklyn man Akai Gurley has been recommended by the lead prosecutor in the case to bypass any time behind bars.
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson suggested that former NYPD cop Peter Liang should serve community service and house arrest instead of jail time, the NYPD Daily News reports.
Thompson’s recommendation for Liang’s potential punishment was made public on Wednesday via a letter he sent to the judge presiding over the matter. Thompson believes that Liang is not a danger to the public, thus jail time would be unwarranted.
Liang, who was fired after a jury convicted him of manslaughter on Feb. 11, faces up to 15 years in prison when he’s sentenced next month.
“Because the incarceration of the defendant is not necessary to protect the public, and because of the unique circumstances of this case, the People do not believe that a prison sentence is warranted,” Thompson wrote in a letter to Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun.
Thompson argued there are mitigating circumstances that favor probation — the fact that Liang was a rookie cop with less than a year on the street, that he was patrolling a darkened stairwell to try and keep the residents of the Pink Houses safe, and that there was no evidence that he intended to kill 28-year-old Gurley who was two floors below.
Police union officials speaking in support of Liang believe that he should have never been charged in Gurley’s death. A local group countered the union’s stance by stating that Liang violated NYPD protocol by entering the Pink Houses stairwell with his weapon drawn.
The family of the victim responded to the recommendation with outrage.
“We speak as Akai’s mother, aunt and stepfather,” relatives said in a statement. “We are outraged at District Attorney Thompson’s inadequate sentencing recommendation. Officer Liang was convicted of manslaughter and should serve time in prison for his crime.”
“This sentencing recommendation sends the message that police officers who kill people should not face serious consequences,” they said. “It is this ongoing pattern of a severe lack of accountability for officers that unjustly kill and brutalize New Yorkers that allows the violence to continue.”
SOURCE: New York Daily News | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty | VIDEO CREDIT: Inform