The Brooklyn district attorney, Ken Thompson, is not seeking prison time for former New York City police officer Peter Liang, convicted of manslaughter last month in the fatal shooting of Akai Gurley, per sentencing recommendations submitted to the State Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Thompson has recommended five years of probation, including six months of home confinement, for Liang, who is due to be sentenced next month. The rookie cop shot and killed Gurley, 28, in a poorly-lit stairwell in East New York’s Louis H. Pink Houses in November 2014. Gurley was unarmed and visiting his girlfriend. The case, Thompson said in a statement, according to the New York Times, was about “justice and not about revenge.”
“Mr. Liang has no prior criminal history and poses no future threat to public safety,” the district attorney wrote in his sentencing letter, addressed to the judge. (Sentencing in the case is ultimately at the judge’s discretion.) “Because his incarceration is not necessary to protect the public, and because of the unique circumstances of this case, a prison sentence is not warranted.”
Gurley’s mother, aunt, and stepfather expressed their disappointment in a statement. “We are outraged at District Attorney Thompson’s inadequate sentencing recommendation,” they said, according to the New York Daily News. “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,” the family’s statement continued.
“There is no evidence that the defendant intended to kill or even injure Mr. Gurley,” Thompson wrote in his sentencing letter. “There are no winners here.”