NEW YORK – A prosecutor said Wednesday he has recommended that the New York police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man in a darkened public housing stairwell serve no time behind bars.
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said justice will be served if the now-former officer serves probation.
The 28-year-old Peter Liang was convicted of a manslaughter charge in February after the 2014 shooting death of Akai Gurley. The rookie officer was dismissed following the verdict.
Thompson said Wednesday he has recommended a judge sentence Liang to serve five years' probation, along with six months of home confinement and 500 hours of community service. Though the charge carries no requirement for prison time, Liang faced up to 15 years in prison.
"Because his incarceration is not necessary to protect the public, and due to the unique circumstances of this case, a prison sentence is not warranted," Thompson said in a news release announcing his recommendation.
The rookie officer had been patrolling at the public housing high-rise with his gun drawn when he said a sudden sound jarred him and he fired. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit the 28-year-old Gurley on a lower floor.
Prosecutors argued Liang's actions were reckless and he shouldn't have had his gun out.
The shooting happened in a year of debate nationwide about police killings of black men. Activists have looked to Liang's trial as a counterweight to cases in which grand juries have declined to indict officers, including the cases of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York. Like Gurley, Brown and Garner were black and unarmed. Liang is Chinese-American.
More than 10,000 of Liang's supporters railed in New York and across the U.S. after the verdict, protesting his conviction.