Brooklyn's district attorney has recommended that a police officer convicted in an accidental shooting death in a public housing project not receive a prison term during his sentencing next month.
Former NYPD officer Peter Liang was convicted of manslaughter last month for shooting Akai Gurley in a dark stairwell in East New York in November 2014. Liang faced a potential sentence of up to 15 years at his upcoming April 14 hearing.
But Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced Wednesday he had submitted a sentence recommendation that included no jail time for the former police officer. Instead, Thompson recommended that Liang be sentenced to six months of house arrest, five years of probation and 500 hours of community service.
"As I have said before, there are no winners here. But the sentence that I have requested is just and fair under the circumstances of this case," Thompson said in a released statement. "From the beginning, this tragic case has always been about justice and not about revenge."
Members of Gurley's family reacted to the announcement with surprise and anger. Gurley's aunt Hertencia Petersen told WABC they learned of the district attorney's plans to not pursue a prison sentence at the same time as the public.
"A jury of his peers convicted him of manslaughter. So you're telling me they got it wrong? No they did not. It's nonsense that the DA is going to recommend no jail time," Petersen said to WABC.
Petersen wasn't alone, as the decision sparked wide criticism and anger.
About the only one who wasn't mad about this decision was police union president Patrick Lynch, but that's because he's still mad that Liang was ever on trial in the first place.
"The reasons cited by the DA for justifying no jail time in this tragedy are the very same reasons that the officer should not have been indicted in the first place," Lynch told WABC.
While Thompson's recommendation will surely carry weight at sentencing, the final decision is up to Judge Danny Chun at the April 14 hearing.