“If we don’t get justice—” Hertencia Petersen, Akai Gurley’s aunt called outside Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson’s office.

“—shut it down!” an amped crowd of family, supporters and numerous grassroots groups responded.

“If Akai don’t get it?”

“Shut it down!”

“DA Thompson, you are forewarned!” Peterson declared. “This is not the end!”

“This is the second killing of Akai Gurley,” said a visibly moved City Council Member Inez Barron, “first by the NYPD, now by District Attorney Ken Thompson himself. The prosecutorial team has been let down, their work has been undermined and undercut. It’s too bad that we don’t have a whistleblower protection, so that those who know what the deal was that this DA made can come forward and tell us what that deal was.”

“Akai’s mom, my sister Sylvia Palmer, is just in shock because of this recommendation,” Petersen told the Amsterdam News this week. “She is disappointed and frustrated. She feels isolated, and has pushed back into the shell she was just coming out of. Any trust she had for the justice system is gone.”

“You betrayed our community, DA Ken Thompson,” stated Assemblyman Charles Barron. “Your decision to recommend that the police officer found guilty of shooting Akai Gurley should serve no jail time is like killing him again.”

Thompson’s office attempted to assure that he was seeking “justice not revenge,” with reference to the numerous police killings of unarmed Black men, such as Sean Bell, Timothy Stansbury, Ousmane Zongo, Amadou Diallo, Mike Brown and Eric Garner.

But at a loud and angry press conference in Downtown Brooklyn last Thursday afternoon, family, friends and supporters of the Gurley family blasted Thompson for recommending that convicted former NYPD cop Peter Liang serves no jail, despite his manslaughter conviction.

“Who got to you, DA Ken Thompson?” demanded Inez Barron.

Last month, the city was stunned when Liang was found guilty of killing the young father in the stairwell of Louis H. Pink Houses houses in East New York, Brooklyn.

Roger Wareham, attorney for Gurley’s grieving girlfriend Melissa Butler, decried as a “failure of courage” Thompson’s recommendation that on sentencing day rather than consider the possible 15-year sentence, Justice Danny Chun give Liang six months of home confinement with electronic monitoring, five years of probation and 500 hours of community service.

Wareham said that upon hearing the news, “Melissa’s reaction was, ‘All this was for nothing.’ It was crushing.”

Butler could not contain her tears as she shook, racked with angst. She had tried to save Gurley’s life in the stairwell as she followed a 911 operator’s instructions on how to apply CPR to her dying partner.

Wareham, himself seemingly holding back raw emotion, added, “Melissa’s courage then has to be juxtaposed with the failure of courage. It was correct that he prosecuted the case. It was correct he got a conviction, because that was out of the norm for any place around the country. But, it was like someone who is on a football team. His team is behind, time is running out, he’s running down the sideline with a running touch down, and then he decides that no one is around him and he throws the ball out of bounds. It’s a failure of courage.”

“It’s a slap in the face!” said Petersen, after telling the Amsterdam News that the DA informed the family of his decision by phone “after the news media had it, and it was all over social media.”

“Peter Liang was indicted, prosecuted and subsequently convicted by a jury because his reckless actions caused an innocent man to lose his life,” Thompson said in a statement. “There is no evidence, however, that he intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley. When Mr. Liang went into that building that night, he did so as part of his job and to keep the people of Brooklyn and our city safe.”

“Ken Thompson have you lost your mind?” asked Council Member Barron. “Don’t ever come to us for anything. We will come to you for a lot because we are revolted by your actions, and we will not forget.”

In February, Liang was convicted for the 2014 shooting of Gurley. Gurley entered a stairwell while Liang and another officer were doing vertical patrol. Liang, on the floor above, fired his weapon into the darkened stairwell as Gurley came through a door, killing him.

While the Gurley family expressed relief at last month’s verdict, hundreds in the Asian community gathered at Cadman Plaza declaring that Liang was being used as an “Asian scapegoat” because white officers in similar cases were not even indicted. Talk at the rally and beyond is that phone calls were made; closed-door meetings were held with certain Brooklyn elected officials, clergy and business leaders; pressure was applied; and certain assurances were given.

Speaking with the Amsterdam News, Thompson’s office refuted any inference of impropriety and proclaimed that justice was being served with this recommendation.

After Thursday’s rally, however, Assemblyman Barron told the Amsterdam News, “The D.A. actually reversed himself. He got the indictment, said he was guilty of at least manslaughter, got the conviction, and then turns around and says he should serve his time at home!”

Petersen, Palmer and Gurley’s stepfather, Kenneth Palmer, said in a statement that they “were outraged at District Attorney Thompson’s inadequate sentencing recommendation. Officer Liang was convicted of manslaughter and should serve time in prison for his crime. This sentencing recommendation sends the message that police officers who kill people should not face serious consequences. It is this ongoing pattern of a severe lack of accountability for officers that unjustly kill and brutalize New Yorkers that allows the violence to continue … On April 14 … we hope that Judge Chun will take seriously the crimes for which Peter Liang was convicted and appropriately sentence Liang to serve time in prison.”

“DA Thompson’s sentencing recommendation for Peter Liang is disappointing, an abdication of justice, and sends the wrong message, once again demonstrating the double standard police officers who violate the law face compared to civilians,” Monifa Bandele, spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform stated. “It contradicts his previously expressed commitment to uphold justice for all people in Brooklyn, and this preferential treatment that reduces accountability for fatal crimes committed by police officers contributes to the continued unjust killings and brutality by police in our communities. Thompson’s recommendation once again demonstrates that there is no equal justice and further exemplifies why a special prosecutor is essential for police killings. District attorneys have historically been unwilling to complete the task in these cases, failing to equally hold police officers accountable to the law. DA Thompson showed he is part of that failure.”

A Gurley National Week of Action will take place from this Saturday, April 1 to April 10. Events will occur in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New Haven.

The Justice for Akai Gurley! Facebook page announced that “The NYC ANSWER Coalition branch action in collaboration with NYC Shut It Down for Akai Gurley is on Saturday, 4/9 at 4 p.m.. It will be taking place on Euclid Avenue and Pitkin. Take the A/C train to the Euclid Avenue station … Stand with us in solidarity with Akai’s family.”

Organizers stated, “Liang is set to be sentenced on April 14 by Judge Danny K. Chun, and if he is able to get off with a light sentence, this will be yet another case of extreme injustice—just a new way of the system saying that Black lives still don’t matter. We cannot sit idly by. Liang was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and official misconduct last month for the November 2014 killing of Akai Gurley in Brooklyn, N.Y. He did the crime, and now he must do the time.”

Gurley’s aunt told the Amsterdam News that on Saturday April 9, the rally will begin at Euclid and Pitkin avenues, go on to the Pink Houses, on to the 75th Precinct and to PS2.

Petersen concluded, “We will continue this fight for justice for Akai Gurley. It is far from over. We want Justice Chun to give jail time, and disregard the DA’s no-jail-time recommendation.”