New York City

DA Recommends No Jail Time For NYPD Officer Who Killed Akai Gurley

Peter Liang shot an innocent, unarmed man in a stairwell, then texted his union rep rather than help his victim.


Peter Liang, the NYPD officer convicted of manslaughter

No jail time for Peter Liang?
Flickr/Tony Webster

for the 2014 shooting death of Akia Gurley in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project, faced a maximum of 15 years in prison for his crime. But New York City's district attorney Ken Thompson has surprised many by recommending a sentence of no prison time at all, instead calling for Liang to serve six months house arrest, five years probation and 500 hours of community service. 

In a statement released yesterday, DA Ken Thompson wrote that Liang's "reckless actions caused an innocent man to lose his life" but that "There is no evidence, however, that he intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley."

Thompson added:

In sentencing a defendant, the facts of the crime and the particular characteristics of that person must be considered. Mr. Liang has no prior criminal history and poses no future threat to public safety?. ?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.

From the beginning, this tragic case has always been about justice and not about revenge.

On November 20, 2014, Liang and his partner were patrolling the stairwells of Brooklyn's "Pink Houses" housing project, which their supervising officer had specifically told them not to do. While conducting the "vertical" patrol with his gun in his hand, Liang became spooked by the sound of 28-year-old Akai Gurley entering the stairwell one floor below (Gurley took the stairs because the elevators were not working) and fired a single bullet which ricocheted off the wall and into Gurley's chest.

In the fateful moments following the shooting, Liang was reportedly "panicked" and texted his union representative rather than offer assistance to Gurley. 

When Liang was convicted in February, Patrick Lynch, the head of New York's police union the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA) said, "This bad verdict will have a chilling ­effect on police officers across the city because it criminalizes a tragic accident." 

WCBS reports Gurley's family expressed outrage at DA Thompson's recommendation:

"This sentencing recommendation sends the message that police officers who kill people should not face serious consequences," the family said in the statement. "It is this on-going pattern of a severe lack of accountability for officers that unjustly kill and brutalize New Yorkers that allows the violence to continue."

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  1. I’m glad the both the Brooklyn district attorney and the NYPD police union are going to stop criminalizing tragic accidents.

    1. Yes, several meetings have been held about this matter and a decision has been reached that it would be better, at least for the time being, to stop criminalizing tragic accidents, so we can focus on what really matters: namely, on jailing the authors of certain forms of speech that we really don’t like. See our preplanning in this regard in the New York State Senate:

      Let me remind all citizens that we live in a land of ordered liberty ? and we plan to impose order, regardless of the wishy-washy “First Amendment dissent” filed by a single liberal judge in our great nation’s leading criminal “satire” case, documented at:

      1. You are reaching new heights of being a pathetic, classless scumbag.

        Well done?

        1. An attempt to recalibrate your sarc meter may prove useful in the future.

          1. You may well be right. I thought I had seen some back-and-forth with this character where it didn’t seem to be a sarcastic position, but now I’m not so sure.

            *mumbles about Poe’s Law*

          2. Still, it is kind of classless, regardless of the position being taken.

            1. Fair enough. To be honest I’m not particularly familiar with Quixote’s posts. I just found his/her take on the subject so absurd that my mind was unable to interpret it as anything else but sarcastic trolling. Time will tell, I suppose.

              1. TrigHip-

                Don’t worry, Quixote is a “one-note” poster.

                Here’s the story.

                For some reason, he thinks we should care…

                1. Lord at War, thank you once, twice, and a thousand times for joining my preplanned, retro-progressive anti-Troll campaign. I applaud the care you have devoted to understanding this matter and, above all, the credence you give to Yahoo media items (especially in this age of “information overload”), but at the same time I would suggest that, yes, you should care that an outrageous “First Amendment dissent” was filed by a liberal judge in America’s leading criminal “satire” case. Apparently there are still people who believe that impersonation, “Gmail confessions” and “parody” are legal, and hence legitimate, ways of engaging in the “free and uninhibited exchange of ideas.” Those people need to be stopped, and we will do what needs to be done to stop them.

                  P.s. my other, lengthier comment was addressed to Kbolino. The thread is becoming a bit garbled.

                  1. I.e., my comment of 3:38 p.m. (which should be directly below this note) was addressed to Kbolino. Trigger-Hippie posted right before I did, so the thread has become garbled.

            2. Yes, perhaps I should be more discreet about our ongoing efforts to reorganize our priorities. Incidentally, who said anything about sarcasm? Thank god we have Poe’s law, but we still urgently need to take action to enforce it. Hopefully, soon we will have special panels in our criminal courts that know how to work with it.

              With regard to reorganizing our priorities, the NYTimes has shed further light on this important problem in a major article:


              “They took the findings to the district attorney’s office in Manhattan a year ago but did not expect anyone to be charged under the current laws. No money was involved, and the penalties would be too slight.”

              Notice how admirably discreet the Times reporter is: the actual fact of the matter is that we decided to refrain from charging anyone with crimes in these particular circumstances because the parties involved were not important enough. Neither of them, for example, was a distinguished, well-connected department chairman in an academic institution. This is clearly a loophole in our priority-allocation scheme that needs to be taken care of, and in that regard, let’s applaud the legislature’s decision to make it clear to all of the Trolls that regardless of the precise “social” circumstances, they will be spending 2-7 years in jail if they cross certain “free-speech” lines.

              1. P.s. in my remarks directly above, “the parties involved” was, of course, a slip of the tongue: I meant the victims. Sometimes I get confused between civil cases (libel) and criminal cases (engaging in illegal mimicry with the intent to damage a reputation).

      2. I prefer the ambiguousness of ‘Managed Democracy’ to imply veiled totalitarianism.

  2. Must be nice being a cop. You’re considered innocent until proven guilty. Mens rea is actually taken into account. And every lawyer in the room is on your side.

    1. You’re a Great American, sarc!

      1. Sarcasmic’s sarcasism is appropriate and allowable, because he carefully respects Poe’s law and explains to us that his sarcasm is precisely sarcasmic. It is good that he does this, because otherwise his tendencies could lead him to cross the line, which is something that we do not allow here in America.

  3. “There is no evidence, however, that he intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley.”

    He pointed a gun at him and pulled the fucking trigger. There is no way he didn’t intend to kill or injure him. Team Cop closes ranks again, on about as egregious a case as you will see.

    The libertarian future is so bright, I gotta wear shades.

    1. Perhaps you missed the part in subhed: texted his union rep.

      Being able to send a text message in a dark stairwell is what the libertarian moment is all about.

      1. You’re right. 20 years ago he wouldn’t have been able to do that, so now he’s “free” to do something he wasn’t “free” to do. This actually proves that liberty is expanding.

        Thank you for helping me get my mind right.

        1. I’m just here to bring a little light into the dark stairwell of life.

    2. I don’t think he intended to commit murder, but cops get to enjoy that sort of distinction. A civilian would be standing trial for second degree murder, like Zimmerman.

      1. It’s hard to say with New York cops. I tend to agree with you that he didn’t intend to kill the guy but was rather horribly inept with a fire arm but considering how many bystanders the NYPD regularly manages to hit instead of the actual perp it’s almost impossible to know for sure.

        I did find it interesting that this guys bullet ricocheted into the guys chest off the wall though. That does seem to either imply an accident or what I imagine to be the ‘average’ aim of the NYPD being badly off center.

      2. I don’t think he intended to commit murder,

        Sorry, but if you point a gun at someone and pull the trigger, I have a very hard time believing you didn’t intend to kill them. The only distinction would be first and second degree murder. Essentially saying that, well, if he didn’t go into the building planning to kill someone, he should walk, doesn’t seem right either.

    3. “and fired a single bullet which ricocheted off the wall and into Gurley’s chest.”

      Try actually reading the article dummy.

  4. Emergency medical protocol for the mundates:
    1. “You, call 911”
    2. “You, immobilize the head”
    3. “Imma check for respiration…”

    Emergency medical protocol for cops:

    1. “Everyone, text your union rep.”
    2. “You, erase that camera’s memory.”
    3. “Imma get my planting weapon….”

    1. 4. Restrain that screaming bitch, put her in the back of the cruiser. Threaten to book her for interfering when she struggles to render aid to her dying lover.

      1. Execute any and all dogs present, except perhaps those who seem like the type who might ‘alert’ to the scent of dangerous minorities, thus justifying any and all searches and seizures. Those lucky pups are going for a ride to their new home at the local precinct.

  5. “This bad verdict will have a chilling ?effect on police officers across the city because it criminalizes a tragic accident.”

    You get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish.

    Obviously, the NYPD and DA have little interest in reducing “tragic accidents” by cops. The rest of us can go to jail for tragic accidents, which is justified in large part by the way that punishing tragic accidents reduces such accidents going forward. But, we wouldn’t want to “chill” reckless behavior by cops, even when it violates policy and the law, because . . . because . . . fuck, I don’t know why.

    1. Jesus, the cop didn’t even get the obligatory commendation, promotion, and ‘Officer Of the Month’ Award – hasn’t the poor man suffered enough?

    2. “This bad verdict will have a chilling effect on police officers across the city because it criminalizes a tragic accident.”

      +1 Bloody Verdict of Verden…er…Brooklyn.
      Bloodletting is the price we pay for arbitrarily defined order, dontcha know. 😉

    3. because . . . because . . . fuck, I don’t know why.

      Come on man, surely you’ve figured this out by now: because FUCK YOU, THAT’S WHY.

  6. Jail time = death sentence? Is that the argument?

    1. Cruel and unusual punishment.

    2. It’s not just this cop you have to worry about. You have to think about all the other cops who will hesitate half a second before pulling the trigger, or (god forbid) keep their fingers off the trigger when patrolling, or refrain from indiscriminately panic firing. And that’s why no cop should ever be punished for anything, ever, because then other cops might have to fall in line.

    3. No jail time = death sentence. The FBI Hostage Roasting Team demonstrated at Waco what can be done with those who offend.

    4. No jail time = death sentence. The FBI Hostage Roasting Team demonstrated at Waco what can be done with those who offend.

  7. Must be nice having a “you scratch my back, I justify your cold blooded murder” situation going on between the DA’s office and the police force.

    Something something Prosecutorial fiat something something get the right kind of evidence something something push an agenda something something preserve the lines of conviction something something if we don’t help them the union will strike and our cities will collapse something something.

    DA’s Office Backtrack

  8. Here’s what a non-corrupt prosecutor would have done:

    Bring in some rubber hose/surgical tubing and 7 liters of fake blood. The closing argument would be exactly 7 minutes long and done in complete silence. Just fake blood draining on to the floor.

    Accidental death, my ass

    1. Non-corrupt prosecutor; faulty premise. All prosecutors have to deal with police unions. Just like politicians with lobbyists, having a pissed off police union aware of your household address and your family is an existential risk.

      Get rid of unions already.

    2. Can you imagine the accidental death of your ass? Both cheeks, full necrosis, just black and flabby, rotting there on your backside until they slough off with a soft “squish” one day when you stand up, and slither down your pant leg and out onto the floor.

      And the smell

      1. Does your ass shit itself when it dies?

        1. Ima go with…yes. Yes it does.

          1. I’m so turned on right now.

      2. “just black and flabby”

        How do you know what my ass looks like?

    3. I left another comment on that conversation last night.

  9. Just as every prosecutor would. I’m sure I’d get the same deal if I accidentally shot someone, then called my mom and checked my email before trying to help the guy.

  10. I wonder how this attitude would compare to how the DA and police union would feel if a random citizen “accidentally” shot a police officer in a moment of panic, and then instead of providing aid to the officer or contacting emergency services, proceeded to immediately call their lawyer instead.

  11. A cop getting jail time for manslaughter?
    The DA responds with a space after the “s”.

  12. Look at it from the DA’s point of view. He depends upon the cops to be able to do his job. If they refuse to cooperate with him, then he will get nothing done. He will have a crap record that he won’t be able to stand on as he seeks more power. His career will be over. So he has little choice but to dole out the smallest punishment that he can get away with short of refusing to prosecute. Otherwise the police will end his career.

    1. I see only one common denominator in all of this. Starts with “u” ends with “nion”

  13. There’s a long line up to use my woodchipper. Not sure what to do.

    1. Get another woodchipper. Make two lines.

      1. Why stop at two? I plan to have 20 in operation at Nuremberg PA.

    2. Set off bombs in the line.

      Too soon?

  14. “Hasn’t he suffered enough for his indifferent and inhuman incompetence?”

    1. Fuck no. If his house burns down around his ears during his six months, I might consider it enough.

  15. In sentencing a defendant, the facts of the crime and the particular characteristics of that person must be considered.

    No shit.

    1. Unless it’s about weed.

  16. “I’m glad he saw that Peter wasn’t a menace to society,” said Chan, a friend of Liang who has been organizing a campaign to oust Thompson since the verdict came down.”

    Is that a fact? I wonder how the cops and law enforcement system would have reacted had Liang been a regular citizen without a badge. Then it would be all ‘yeh it was a mistake but you gotta do the time, you know, because we have to send a proper message’ and all that. You can bet your bottom dollar Thompson would seek to put someone’s ass in jail for the same crime.

    No wonder people around here despise cops and the DA. There’s no integrity in the system and clearly there’s one for cops and one for people.

    Liang took a FATHER AWAY FROM A CHILD because he was an incompetent, pant shitting tool who disobeyed orders. He should do time.

  17. Something seems off to me about this story.

    “But New York City’s district attorney Ken Thompson has surprised many nobody whatsoever by recommending a sentence of no prison time at all”

    Ahhh, that’s better.

    1. But New York City’s district attorney Ken Thompson has surprised many by recommending a sentence of no prison time at all, instead calling for Liang to serve six months house arrest, five years probation and 500 hours of community service.

      You left out the second half of the sentence. That was the part many were surprised about.

  18. Why isn’t this argument used for vehicular manslaughter?

    “Although the defendant’s reckless actions caused the loss of a life, I don’t believe the defendant intended to kill the victim so I recommend no jail time.”

    1. It should be used in some huge percentage of homicides. I mean, once you kill your cheating wife, there’s no reason to think you’ll do it again.

      1. “How was I supposed to know the chainsaw would catch an artery?”

        1. I shouldn’t have laughed so hard at that, Cynic.

  19. Ah, crap. I left my shocked face in my pocket and it went through the wash, and now it’s all sad lookin’.

    1. I lost my shocked face a couple of years back. Didn’t really need it anyway.

    2. Did it look like this. It was an accident so…

  20. Between this shit and the guy who got victim blamed for getting run over in the crosswalk, NYPD is no better than it was in the ’70s.

    They’re just better at hiding the corruption from the public.

    1. Really I think it’s just that huge swaths of the populace are better at not giving a shit that they no longer have civil liberties

  21. “Now, it may look bad, but try to understand the situation from the defendant’s point of view. He heard his front door being forced open, and voices downstairs. He procured his handgun from its place of safekeeping, and went to the head of the stairs, where a figure rushed at him from the darkness. He reflexively fired, in fear for his life. It was only at that point he became aware that his presumed assailant was a police officer. Have pity, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Put yourself in his place, and consider what you would have done. This man poses no ongoing danger to society. Jailing him for a tragic accident would be pointless, and serve no good purpose.”

  22. He’s Asian, that’s why he’s getting off easy.

    There were protests that cops got off easy from the BLM folks and DeLasio wants them to shut up. Unfortunately the first person to murder an unarmed black guy after DeLasio decides to make BLM smile is Asian.

    So the Asian SJWs leap up……and the BLMers are quick behind them.

    And another black guy is dead and another cop gets off because they WANTED to bust a WHITE cop.

  23. How enlightened of Mr Thompson.

    I presume he would show the same courtesy of a homeowner should he mistake the NYPD breaking into his home for a violent home invasion and kill an officer while trying to defend himself.

    I mean we clearly don’t have different rules for the kings men right?

    1. I presume he would show the same courtesy of a homeowner should he mistake the NYPD breaking into his home for a violent home invasion and kill an officer while trying to defend himself.

      That case would never make it to trial because the other officers on the raid would empty their magazines on him, his dog, and anyone or anything else in the house who did anything other than cower on the floor, etc.

      1. “He was cowering aggressively!”

  24. and 500 hours of community service.

    At least they admit policing isn’t community service.

  25. The author starts out with “Peter Liang, the NYPD officer convicted of manslaughter for…” If the author had a clear understanding of law, he would not have written that in that manner. The NYPD officer was NOT convicted; it was the man, Peter Liang who was convicted. Peter may have been acting as an NYPD officer at the time of the incident but he is always a man. “NYPD officer” is a title and cannot be held accountable. Peter Liang, the man, was convicted.
    To wit, Ken Thompson, the man acting as DA, wrote: “Mr. Liang has no prior…” Why did Ken not refer to Peter as “Officer Liang”? Because Peter Liang, the man or person, is the defendant, not Officer Liang the NYPD Officer. “Officer Liang” is a title and a title is a paper entity and a paper entity cannot take any action. The man, acting on behalf of the paper entity, is always responsible for the actions taken.
    Man may never harm or injure another, regardless of any title that he may be assuming or what uniform he may be wearing. Man is always responsible for his actions.
    Patrick Lynch, head of the PBA, got it wrong. This wasn’t a tragic accident. It was careless and reckless action by a man doing something he was told not to do. If you or I were in Peter’s situation, as a “civilian,” there would be no one calling this a tragic accident. Wearing a uniform doesn’t absolve one of responsibility.


  26. Also, Ken Thompson, the man acting as DA, was correct when he wrote “There is no evidence, however, that he intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley.” Of course not. He (Peter) had no idea who it was that he was shooting at. We make the inference without thinking critically about what is written or said.
    Bottom line: the article could have been better written; Peter Liang, the man, is responsible for his actions; leniency should not be extended simply because he was wearing a uniform; this should be a wake-up call (but I doubt it) to all others (man or woman) wearing uniforms.

    No offense intended towards the author of this article.

    1. “There is no evidence, however, that he intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley.”

      Well,, other than pointing a gun at him and pulling the trigger.

  27. This seems appropriate here. Thanks for the nutpunch. It had been a few days since the last time my scrotum was used as a speedbag. I was starting to think maybe life didn’t suck after all.

  28. NYPD badge, license to kill. Please welcome, deferentially and with no sudden moves, our overlords.

  29. Stupid P O S cop, its pigs like this I love to hear about in the news getting clipped in the line of duty.

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