The New York City police officer who shot and killed a man in a darkened stairwell after claiming he had fired his gun accidentally was spared jail time after a judge sentenced him to probation Tuesday.
Peter Liang, 28, was facing up to 15 years in prison after he was convicted for manslaughter and official misconduct in February.
Instead, he will serve five years probation and 800 hours of community service for killing Akai Gurley on November 20, 2014.
Gurley, also 28, had stepped into the stairwell of his apartment building with his girlfriend because the elevators were not working.
Liang, who had entered the stairwell with his partner, said he fired his gun after hearing a noise which startled him. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and struck Gurley in the chest.
Liang and his partner, Shaun Landeu, then stepped around Gurley’s body, arguing with each other as to who should call the shooting in. Liang voiced concerns that he was going to lose his job.
Meanwhile, a neighbor called 911 and followed directions from a dispatcher on how to provide CPR because neither cop was trained in that procedure.
As Gurley took his last breaths, Lang texted his police union representative before eventually calling a medic. Despite attempts to save his job, he was fired almost immediately after the shooting.
Although Liang was continually claimed the shooting was an accident, an NYPD firearms instructor testified in January that it takes 11 pounds of pressure to pull a service-issued Glock, which means the shooting was no accident.
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, who recommended no jail time for the former NYPD cop, did not even show up to the sentencing.
Last month, he issued a statement saying that Liang was only trying to keep the community safe when he killed Gurley.
“Peter Liang was indicted, prosecuted and subsequently convicted by a jury because his reckless actions caused an innocent man to lose his life,” Thompson said in a statement last month announcing his recommendation.
“There is no evidence, however, that he intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley. When Mr. Liang went into that building that night, he did so as part of his job and to keep the people of Brooklyn and our city safe.
Outside the courthouse, more than 200 NYPD cops, including officers from the counter-terrorism unit, were staged, anticipating violent demonstrations, according to the New York Post.