A former police officer convicted in the shooting death of an unarmed man in a darkened stairwell was spared prison time Tuesday, and a judge reduced his manslaughter conviction to a lesser charge.
Peter Liang was sentenced to five years’ probation and 800 hours of community service in the 2014 shooting of Akai Gurley, who was walking down a stairway in a public housing complex when the rookie officer fired a bullet into the dark – by accident after being startled, he said. The bullet ricocheted and killed Gurley, 28.
‘Given the defendant’s background and how remorseful he is, it would not be necessary to incarcerate the defendant to have a just sentence in this case,’ Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun said in sentencing Liang, also 28.
A jury had convicted him in February of a manslaughter charge carrying up to 15 years in prison.
But Chun on Tuesday reduced the offense to criminally negligent homicide, which carries up to four years in prison.
Brooklyn prosecutors recommended Liang serve no time, based on his record and the circumstances of the trial.