Tuesday 06th December 2016,

Asian Americans

No Jail Time and Reduced Charge of Criminal Negligent Homicide for Peter Liang

posted by ShirleyNLew
No Jail Time and Reduced Charge of Criminal Negligent Homicide for Peter Liang

By Shirley N Lew
AsAmNews New York Correspondent

 

Judge Danny Chun sentenced ex-NYPD officer Peter Liang today to a reduced charge of criminally negligent homicide from second degree manslaughter.

With the reduced charge, Chun’s sentenced Liang to five years probation and 800 hours of community service. The judge removed the recommended six months of house arrest, but increased the community hours from 500 as originally recommended by the Brooklyn DA, Ken Thompson.

Liang was facing up to 15 years of manslaughter for an accidental shooting of Akai Gurley in the Pink Houses during a vertical patrol in 2014.

Peter Liang supporters across the street from the courthouse on day of sentencing.

Peter Liang supporters across the street from the courthouse on day of his sentencing.

Chun felt Liang would be more productive if he was not just sitting at home under house arrest and also acknowledged the over 40,000 form letters he received in support of Liang.

“I am compelled to modify and reduce the sentence to criminal negligent homicide. The people needed to prove that substantial and unreasonable risk would occur. There is no evidence that the defendant was aware of Gurley’s presence. Shooting that gun and killing somebody was the last thing on his mind,” the judge said.

Sobs were heard from Gurley’s family and supporters in the courtroom as the judge read off Liang’s sentence.

“It’s still a conviction even-though it’s a criminal negligent homicide,” said community activist and Director of Free Masons,  Karlin Chan. “It’s a relief to get rid of the manslaughter charge. Like I’ve said, I’ve sat in on so many trials and the verdict reached by jury  was unsupported by testimony and evidence presented at the trial, and that it was more an emotional verdict to hold police accountable. The judge looked at the evidence, he did the right thing. He stood by the letter of the law and he made the right decision. “

Assemblyman William Colton’s also reacted to Liang’s reduced charge and sentence.

BKLYN ASSEMBLYMAN, WILLIAM COLTON ON LIANG – April 19, 2016 from Video Gal on Vimeo.

 

Peter Liang supporters across the street from the courthouse on day of sentencing.

Peter Liang supporters across the street from the courthouse on day of his sentencing.

Supporters of Gurley believed that Liang never called for help.  Complicating the matter the night of the incident is that Liang and his partner Shaun Landau did not know immediately that a man was shot. When they did, they both were not able to perform CPR, they said because of inadequate training.

Landau testified in the trial and was then fired from the NYPD. He was never charged.

When asked if the Liang’s legal team will still appeal, Chan replied, “We will discuss that even though it is now a Class E felony. We still try to clear his name totally.”

Just before the judge read Liang’s sentence, Liang read his statement, ”I always treated people fairly and with respect.”

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Demonstrator Marquis Jenkins outside courthouse on the day of Peter Liang’s sentencing.

Outside the courthouse, demonstrator Marquis Jenkins said, “For decade and centuries, the criminal justice system has been holding people of color hostage. We are yet again disappointed, but not surprised by today’s verdict. We will continue to advocate, immobilize and organize for justice. We can not allow another person of color to fall, to die in the hand of the system that was designed to protect us.”

Before the 2:30pm sentencing, about a hundred Liang supporters already formed across the street. They held signs in English and Chinese that read “Stand up to justice,” and “Tragic accident does not equal manslaughter.”

For over a year and a half, this case has captured the attention of many. As some have said, there are

Peter Liang's lawyer, Gary Schectman outside the courthouse.

Peter Liang’s lawyer, Paul Schectman outside the courthouse.

no clear winners here. One can only hope that with time, everyone will heal. There is a dead man and a fired police officer with an uncertain future. The case even created division among many Chinese Americans over Liang’s conviction. This case is surely to be re-examined in law schools and there will plenty of discussions to take place in homes.

One thing is for sure,  the supporters on both sides wanted justice.

The probation department will determine when the sentencing will begin and the type of service Liang will be performing in the community.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Edwin Chen says:

    Is it 500 or 800 hours of community service??? Great article Shirley! She is so Brave to take the public rage for covering this important issue. She is a reporter and respected member of our community. People need to remember to not attack the messenger. She is only doing her job by covering such an important case.

    1. Shirley Ng-Lew says:

      The judge reduced the sentence to
      no house arrest but increased the number of hours of community service from 500 to 800 and kept the recommended 5 yrs probation.

  2. Alouette says:

    RE: No jail time and reduced charge of criminal negligent homicide for Peter Liang: I am torn. I understand both points of view. I am glad he didn’t go to jail. I am saddened that he accidentally killed someone. I am upset and hurt that a system design to protect only protects the majority and keeps creating a wedge between people of color. Let us not stop trying to build the bridge they keep tearing down by using us to hurt each other.

  3. Jo says:

    RE: No jail time and reduced charge of criminal negligent homicide for Peter Liang: While I agree with the sentence, I must say that these pro-Liang protestors are really misguided. They should never have been protesting his indictment and conviction but his unequal treatment.

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