The Persecution of Officer Peter Liang

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Officer Peter Liang reacts to the jury's decision.
Officer Peter Liang reacts to the jury’s decision.

Officers can now be put in prison for years if they accidentally shoot someone and such is the case of rookie police officer Peter Liang.

Much of the crime taking place in the decaying cities of America is taking place in tenements. The stairwells are a criminal’s safe haven. There are no cameras, no way to penetrate the concrete to hear what is being said. All manner of crimes take place from rapes to drug deals to murders in tenement stairwells and on roofs.

Police conduct ‘vertical patrols’ to keep the residents safe. They are extremely dangerous for the police.

It’s a daunting and dangerous assignment — patrolling the darkened stairwells of the city’s most violent buildings – and it’s also necessary. As police go from the roof to the bottom floor, they are imperiled every step of the way. It’s a war zone and criminals know police are fair game.

Two police officers were shot and wounded this month at a public housing complex on East 156th Street in the Bronx as they were conducting a vertical stairwell patrol, according to the NYPD. The alleged gunman, identified as 23-year-old Malik Chavis, apparently killed himself soon after the shooting, in an apartment one floor from the scene.

One officer was shot in the cheek and the other was shot in the abdomen.

There isn’t any furor. There is a furor, however, over a terrible accidental shooting of a black man in a tenement in 2014.

Back in 2014, Bratton promised to pair rookies with experienced cops after Akai Gurley, 28, was accidentally shot by rookie officer Peter Liang.

Rookie cops are often assigned to these dangerous patrols and often they are not with experienced officers.

One night in November, 2014, the young rookie, just recently on the job, was engaged in a dangerous vertical patrol with another rookie officer.

Liang and partner Shaun Landau — both probationary officers and both now fired from the force — were on routine patrol in a pitch-dark stairwell at the crime-ridden Louis Pink Houses project in East New York on the night of Nov. 20, 2014, when a slamming metal door broke the tense silence.

Possibly startled by the noise, Liang accidently pulled his trigger.

The bullet ricocheted off a cinder-block wall and pierced the heart of unarmed passer-by Akai Gurley, 28, killing him in minutes. Trying out Liang’s Glock under the direction of the prosecution convinced jurors that Liang had recklessly patrolled the stairwell with his finger on the trigger of a drawn weapon, in violation of department rules, jurors said after the verdict.

Liang was convicted thanks to a clever prosecutor who had the jurors handle the gun to convince them Liang couldn’t have possibly shot off the gun accidentally.

None of the jurors were experts and they still aren’t but they became convinced they had enough expertise to claim Liang was criminally negligent.

No one is saying Liang deliberately killed Mr. Gurley. It was an accident but in New York and in the United States in general, police officers can now be jailed for 15 years for an accident.

All agree that this was an accident. The prosecutor who decided to over-prosecute the case of Officer Liang went for a manslaughter charge though he knew it was an accident. He then convinced the jurors they could put themselves in the officer’s position and become experts by handling the gun.

They were told by experts that it takes 11 pounds of pressure to pull the trigger of a 9mm glock. An 11-pound trigger makes a gun much harder to pull accidentally but in fact it can be done accidentally, especially under high stress conditions.

These so-called newbie experts on the jury decided Mr. Liang must have foolishly had his finger on the trigger as he went through the tenement – the hellhole of crime – and lied about it.

Liang was convicted because they decided he lied.

Both officers were fired because they didn’t perform CPR. Mr. Gurley was shot in the heart and had no chance of survival – he died very quickly.. The rookies did not have proper training in CPR.

Fired for not giving CPR?

It was a terrible accident and no one wanted to see Mr. Gurley hurt, but it was an accident. How can police officers do their jobs when they know an accident will be criminalized? This wasn’t a prosecution, it was a political persecution.

All Officer Liang ever wanted to be since childhood was a cop.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Very sad for this unfair treatment of police officer Liang! This verdict failed justice! Jailed police for a tragic accident on duty will not make safe neighborhood! NYPD has sacrified this rookie officer to release the overall political pressure on police bruitality! However, this scapegoating of officer Liang will only intensify systematic unfairness and discriminatory practice of NYPD!

  2. But I will be prosecuted if I accidentally shoot someone. Why should LEOs be any different? Should there be a separate set of laws for them?

    • Did it actually happen to you or you are just assuming? Details appreciated. Liang’s case is an obvious political move, I’m very interested in hearing your story.

    • If he aim at the person and accidentally shoot, that is a crime. But PO Liang didn’t aim at him, the bullet shot the wall and bounced.

  3. Truly sad to see how the same system and the same set of law can be manipulated by people with hidden agenda! I hope this Asian cop will not be jailed, because he didn’t aim the gun at anyone, the gun went off when he was pushing the door open using his shoulder. Yes he was scared, yes he’s not experienced, yes an innocent person died which I deeply deeply feel sorry for, but that doesn’t make Liang the murderer, he didn’t intentionally fire the gun because of his fear or lack of experience.
    Officers were killed on their job when they thought it wouldn’t happen at that moment, like sitting in the car with their partner, like patrolling stairs with their partner… It is necessary for officers to be prepared to be ready to defense themselves especially when they enter an area known for crimes.

    • And when the bullet went out, it first hit the wall and somehow bounced or ricocheted, then hit Mr. Gurley. Sounding as crazy as it is, Mr. Gurley was on another level of floor when the bullet stroke his heart. It is truly a tragedy.

  4. Totally agreed this is political persecution. Mr. Liang is a rookie officer. NYPD and Police Union turned back at him after the tragedy. Mr. Liang is a scapegoat for easing tension of “Black Lives Matter” civil right movement. This time, Asian community is furious and claiming justice for Mr. Liang.

  5. Well said… Glad this case is attracting some long deserved attention. Shame on NYPD and the Police Union that turned back on rookie officer Liang as soon as the tragedy happened! The Police Union assigned a lawyer that asked Liang to immediately admit guilty of whatever charges that were against him, and deprived him of the precious opportunity to explain the context in front of the Grand Jury when they were still deciding if they should even press the charge. Liang’s family had no choice but to choose their own lawyer Robert Brown, who was obviously outsmarted by the cunning DA and prosecutor, who asked Liang’s partner to provide statements against Liang in order to exchange for his own non-sentencing. How credible would his words be in this case?! Why Police Union doesn’t assign a lawyer that had handled a white police officer’s case to Liang’s case? Just because Liang is a minority?! Who is racially discriminating in this case? Does Liang really deserve a manslaughter felony and 15 years in prison for such an unfortunate accident? If this is real fairness, what about those white police officers that shot 12 times on the victim, or shot disregard the victim asked for help for 11 times? Why those people could walk away free??

  6. This is ridiculous cop propoganda. Cops are all but immune, if when there is a an execution. One episode of a cop being being unfairly convicted does not alter the reality. Cops are protected over one over by higher ups, fellow cops and politicians. This guy may have gotten a bad shake, maybe because he is Asian.

  7. I want to pick this apart piecemeal, but it would be longer than the original. You’re a bad author. Take a English 101 at community college, ask a teacher born before 1980 to proofread your work, or just stop.

  8. If a police officer is decided guilty for causing innocent Africans’ death only when this officer is Asian, can we stop being worried about African friends’ lives in the future? What if a Caucasian officer shoots an African guy next time? Based on case studies, most Caucasian officers who have ever caused innocents’ death were NOT prosecuted — they did even NOT lose their jobs. Africans’ lives are still in danger even if Liang is put in jail.

  9. Liang is a scapegoat for all the police brutality/black lives matter cause. why not hand them the minority cop and protect the white cops such as in the case of acquitting all the white cops from Gardner’s case.

    • It was timing. They wanted their pound of flesh and he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s a travesty. I”m very concerned about the judge throwing the book at this young man. How in the world, does someone convict a person of manslaughter based on a stray bullet?

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