Dear Judge Chun, we want justice for Akai Gurley
Organizers for Justice for Akai Gurley | 4/7/2016, 1:48 p.m.
Dear Judge Chun,
I write this letter as a concerned New Yorker to ask that you uphold justice by adequately sentencing Peter Liang, the former NYPD officer who killed Akai Gurley. As his conviction on charges of manslaughter and official misconduct confirms, Liang took the life of unarmed Gurley without reason and should be held accountable for this act.
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s recommended sentence of probation, community service and a very minimal amount of house arrest is completely inadequate. Thompson has failed to advance justice for Gurley and his family, which sends the message that New York’s criminal justice system continues to devalue Black lives. You should make a different choice and issue an adequate sentence that fits Liang’s crimes.
To fulfill your duty to uphold justice, you must issue a sentence that includes jail time for Liang.
Liang robbed Akai’s daughter, Akaila, of her father; his partner, Kim, of a partner; and his mother, Sylvia Palmer, of a son. His family must forever suffer his loss because Liang was patrolling the stairway of a public housing unit with his gun drawn and his finger on the trigger—against NYPD protocol and without reason. As was made evident during his trial, Liang had to exert 11.5 pounds of pressure to pull the trigger. There is no way the gun simply “went off” as he claimed. After killing Akai, Liang immediately tried to cover up his actions rather than give CPR to Akai as he lay dying. This misconduct is why Liang was justly convicted by a 12-person jury of his peers.
Given the historical and ongoing lack of accountability for officers who unjustly kill and brutalize New Yorkers, Liang’s conviction was a significant step towards justice for the Gurley family and our city. However, an inadequate sentence that does not include jail time will roll back this progress. Not only would it be a further injustice to Akai’s family, but also it would constitute the continuation of a pattern of minimal consequences for police officers who commit heinous crimes. It is this pattern that allows the violence to continue.
I know that you have been receiving letters in support of Liang and pressure from various forces to allow Liang off with only community service or probation. I urge that you take Liang’s role in Akai’s death seriously in sentencing him. If this situation were reversed and Akai had shot and killed a police officer, he would be facing a life sentence. Police officers should not be treated differently from others when they have clearly broken the law. For these reasons, I urge you not to hand down a minimal sentence of probation or community service only. I stand with Akai Gurley’s family calling for you to do the right thing on April 14, 2016.
Organizers for Justice for Akai Gurley