Akai Gurley was a 28-year-old black man who was unarmed when he was fatally shot by then New York Police Department officer Peter Liang on November 20, 2014. Liang would be indicted for Gurley's death months later in February of last year. Today when it came to Liang's sentencing a judge ruled he would not serve time in jail for killing Gurley.
The high-profile case earned attention both in the Black Lives Matter movement, though providing slightly different circumstances since both Gurley and Liang were minorities, and in the Asian American community which protested in defense of Liang this February.
According to the Los Angeles Times Liang and his partner were patrolling a "dark stairwell" in East New York, Brooklyn's Pink Houses housing project when Gurley and his girlfriend reportedly entered the stairwell. Liang fired a shot that reportedly ricocheted off the wall before hitting Gurley in the chest. The LA Times writes Liang said he was "startled by a loud noise."
Liang, who was indicted for second degree manslaughter, faced up to 15 years in prison. Brooklyn Judge Danny Chun instead sentenced him to 800 hours of community service, five years probation after reducing the manslaughter conviction to criminally negligent homicide.
"Shooting that gun and killing someone was probably the last thing in his mind and probably never entered his mind at all," said Chun according to the LA Times. "This was not an intentional act. …There's no evidence, either direct or circumstantial, that the defendant was aware of Akai Gurley's presence."
The LA Times reports Liang was accused of "deadly negligence" by the prosecution after failing to call for an ambulance after shooting Gurley and for not performing CPR on Gurley.
Reading a statement Liang said, "I was in shock and could barely breathe," after the shooting. "I wish I could undo what happened."