New Yorkers have held a rally to protest a court decision to acquit a police officer accused of fatally shooting unarmed black man, Akai Gurley in 2014.
Gurley’s family members united with others in Brooklyn on Saturday to voice their anger at the ruling by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Denny Chun.
“It’s a dagger,” Hertencia Petersen, Gurley’s aunt, said of the sentencing. “We figured, OK, maybe we will get some type of justice, we did not get anything.”
Last month, Chun followed the no-jail recommendation of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson in sentencing former NYPD officer Peter Liang to five years probation and 800 hours of community service for the shooting death of Gurley.
Liang was initially convicted of manslaughter, among other charges, and faced up to 15 years in prison.
However, the judge reduced his conviction to a lesser felony of criminally negligent homicide.
Chun said he agreed with Thompson’s recommendation because “as I watched the video of the defendant entering the lobby of the Pink Houses, I couldn’t help but feel he was entering with the serious mind of protecting the people.”
Liang and his partner where doing a sweep of an apartment building in East New York around 11:15 pm on November 20, 2014, when a steel door allegedly slammed, startling him.
The officer had his service-issued .9mm Glock out and claimed that it went off by accident. Gurley (pictured below) was shot in the chest.
New York City police officer Peter Liang is escorted out of court after he was charged with manslaughter, official misconduct and other offenses on February 11, 2015. (AFP photo)
Protesters on Saturday also chanted slogans against Thompson for recommending that the rookie officer serve no prison time.
At least two protesters were arrested during the “Justice for Akai” rally.
Police brutality has become a major concern across the nation in recent years.
The US Justice Department is under intense pressure to review the use of brutal force by law enforcement officers.
Large-scale demonstrations were held across the US in 2014 after a series of high-profile incidents of white police officers killing unarmed African-American men, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Eric Garner in Staten Island, and Walter Scott in North Charleston.