Council member Williams Rejects DA Thompson's No-Jail Bid in Gurley Case

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District Attorney Ken Thompson's sentencing recommendation for Peter Liang is deeply concerning. I truly believe, as do many, that Peter Liang did not intend to kill Akai Gurley that night. I also believe on many levels that the NYPD has questions to answer. Still none of that negates the fact that an unarmed young man was killed and Officer Liang's actions - and inaction - were reckless and he must be held accountable. This was confirmed by a jury and he should receive an appropriate sentence.

Many have expressed outrage that one of the only police officers charged and convicted of shooting an armed individual is himself a person of more color. I believe the outrage has validity and should be a part of the conversation about policing, accountability, communities of more color and justice. But that conversation must be additive, not subtractive; whenever a life is taken because of police misconduct, the officer should be held accountable, period.

I understand that District Attorney Thompson is in a difficult position. But, the mitigating circumstances explained in District Attorney Thompson's decision might very well justify a reason for not offering the maximum sentence available; but it is hard to accept that it would be offered for no prison time at all.

The recommendation could have a chilling effect on accountability. It can provide the basis that any officer, even if convicted of manslaughter, should not serve prison time as long as they did not "intend" to kill an unarmed human being. Black life must be shown to have more value.

These conversations are hard and must be done understanding the difficulties officer's face every day. It must also be done believing that accountability has be real. The recommendation made today only sets us back in that discussion.

Tonight, my thoughts and prayers are with all those intimately involved and to a city grappling with justice.

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