In a shocking announcement, Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has recommended former NYPD officer Peter Liang serve only house arrest for his 2014 killing of unarmed Akai Gurley.
Liang was convicted of manslaughter by a Brooklyn jury and is eligible to face up to 15 years in prison, but D.A. Kenneth Thompson is recommending the judge only sentence Liang to six months of house arrest.
This news has outraged many in the African-American community who believed that, once again, justice is being evaded.
The jurors themselves have expressed anger at the DA's recommendation. An anonymous juror was quoted as saying, “What was the point of prosecuting him? … What did we do this for?” Another juror said, “I agree he doesn't deserve tremendous time, but if something is wrong you shouldn't get a slap on the wrist.”
Many believe District Attorney Thompson was pressured into making this recommendation by the Asian community, which has protested in Liang's favor since the verdict.
Some who agree that Liang should not serve jail time point out that the former NYPD officer has been apologetic. Liang recently made a face-to-face apology to Kimberly Ballinger, who is Akai Gurley’s former partner and mother of his three-year-old daughter, saying he was, “Very sorry, that he knows how difficult it is to lose a loved one and that this was the last thing he could have ever imagined happening.”
Friends and family of Gurley, however, are not accepting the former officer's apology. Shavon Ford, Gurley’s cousin, said, “The apology is not something that the family accepts... that apology does nothing. It does nothing to absolve Peter Liang from shooting and killing Akai Gurley. So he apologizes now over a year later after the incident.”
Despite this continued outrage, the Brooklyn district attorney still thinks Liang should not serve any time in prison.
The DA has received some praise for his controversial plea. NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton spoke in praise of Thompson's “courage” for recommending Liang serve no jail time. Liang is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14.
(Photo from top: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Akai Gurley via Facebook, Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)