Akai Gurley’s family deserves justice

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Peter Liang

[Commentary] Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson’s recommendation of probation for former NYPD Officer Peter Liang in the death of Akai Gurley is a deep injustice and insult to the families of all victims of police violence.

But, we still have an opportunity to win justice for Akai Gurley before Judge Danny Chun determines Liang’s ultimate sentence on April 14. It’s time for all communities to come together to send a clear message that any police officer who takes a life deserves more than a slap on the wrist.

I know what it feels like to be denied justice by our country’s so-called justice system. Twenty-one years ago, my younger brother, Yong Xin Huang, was killed by an NYPD officer and my family never got justice. Our family’s story and grief are not so different than that of Akai Gurley’s family. The injustice his family now faces at the hands of the justice system is not so different than that my family faced 21 years ago.

My family was a typical Chinese immigrant family. Our father worked in a restaurant; our mother worked in a garment factory. When we came to the United States in 1986, Yong Xin was seven years old. He was our youngest brother and the only son in the family. He had three older sisters, Joyce, me and Janice. We were just like any other new immigrant family — working hard and trying to make a better life for ourselves in the United States. Our family put all our expectations for the future on Yong Xin. He was a good student, son and brother and never got into trouble.

On March 24, 1995, Yong Xin was playing with a BB gun with his friends in the backyard of one of their homes. A neighbor, perhaps thinking the gun was real, called 911. Two police officers arrived on the scene. One of them, Steve Mizrahi, grabbed Yong Xin and pushed his face against a glass door and shot him in the back of the head. According to the autopsy report, Yong Xin’s face was covered with injuries, and he was shot at close range.

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