Former NYPD Officer Peter Liang, moments after being convicted for the negligent homicide death of Akai Gurley.
Former NYPD Officer Peter Liang, moments after being convicted for the negligent homicide death of Akai Gurley.

A New York prosecutor is recommending that former NYPD officer Peter Liang serve a combination of home confinement, parole, and community service for negligently firing a shot that killed an innocent man.

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.

“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 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.

Liang reportedly had the index finger on his left hand the trigger of his Glock 19 as he attempted to open the door with his right hand. When he encountered more resistance than expected opening the door, Liang apparently clenched both hands, firing a bullet that ricocheted down the stairwell and killed Akai Gurley.

I’ve not been subtle in my opinion about this case. I think that both Liang and and the NYPD brass that so incompetently trained him should share a prison cell.

The New York City Police Department may be “New York’s Finest,” but in terms of their firearms training and individual officer skills with firearms, they lag behind most of the nation. NYPD officers are so prone to touching off negligent rounds that Department brass had Glock (which dominates the law enforcement handgun market) create extra-heavy trigger springs to make the guns more difficult to fire by officers who have their fingers on the trigger of their guns when they aren’t supposed to be there.

Glock was asked to create the N.Y.1 and N.Y. 2 triggers to make Glock pistols more difficult to fire for poorly trained police officers.

Other manufacturers who sell guns to the NYPD for on and off-duty use are similarly required to have heavy trigger pulls.  No doubt driven by budget concerns, NYPD brass apparently decided was easier to install a cheap part and blame undertrained officers for negligent discharges than it was to train officers to the point of competency with their firearms.

It is this mindset from NYPD brass that set Peter Liang up for failure, and which ensures there will be many more future Akai Gurleys dying, and more Peter Liangs going to prison.

Of course, the prosecutor, Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, isn’t suggesting that Peter Liang face prison for ending the life of Akai Gurley. He’s offering instead a very forgiving sentence.

Is that “justice?”

I submit to you that it is not, and we’ll end up with more innocent deaths before the NYPD is finally forced to give officers competent firearms training.