Poorly-trained NYPD officer Peter Liang will not see any prison time for a negligent discharge of his duty pistol that killed an innocent bystander.
NYPD officer Peter Liang will not serve time behind bars for fatally shooting an innocent, unarmed black man in 2014 in a case that has drawn the attention of both Asian American and African American protesters.
A Brooklyn judge sentenced Liang to five years of probation and 800 hours of community service on Tuesday, saying the rookie cop never intended to shoot — let alone kill — Akai Gurley while patrolling a dark stairwell in a Brooklyn housing project.
Liang was convicted in February of manslaughter and official misconduct for firing a shot that ricocheted off a wall and struck Gurley in the heart, but Judge Danny Chun on Tuesday reduced the manslaughter charge to criminally negligent homicide.
Liang is getting almost all of the blame for Gurley’s death, and not without reason; it was his duty Glock 19, and he pulled the trigger.
But Liang was set up for failure by the NYPD and New York City’s rabid anti-gun culture from the very start, and they bear at least some of the blame.
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.
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.
I personally think that Judge Danny Chun decision to reduce the charge to criminally negligent homicide from manslaughter was probably the right move in the interests of justice.
It’s too bad that he couldn’t convict NYPD’s brass as well for sending such poorly-trained officers out on the streets of a city so crowded that it demands a very high level of proficiency and accuracy with firearms.