A Brooklyn jury convicted New York police officer Peter Liang of second-degree manslaughter and official misconduct for the killing of Akai Gurley, prompting protests from many in the Asian American community who are defending Liang and seeking leniency for him.
Although it was an accidental shooting committed by the rookie Chinese American policeman, the jury determined that the reckless and negligent actions of the New York police officer resulted in the death of the unarmed African American man in a stairwell of a housing project. The case has been linked to the highly publicized series of fatal police actions on other unarmed Black men which gave rise to the Black Lives Matter protests.
In spite of the claims by the pro-Liang protesters that he was a “scapegoat,” prosecuted unfairly because he is Asian American, while white policemen have escaped punishment for more egregious cases of police killings of unarmed African American men, these concerns in the end do not outweigh or exclude the need for justice for the primary victims – Akai Gurley and his family.
- [New York Times] Officer Peter Liang Convicted in Fatal Shooting of Akai Gurley in Brooklyn: “The verdict … comes amid a national debate on the policing of black neighborhoods after a string of killings of unarmed black men by police officers. And the jury’s decision is a rare instance in which a police officer was convicted of killing someone in the line of duty.” Read more
- [Huffington Post] Akai Gurley, Unarmed Man, Shot By NYPD: “Police said the officers walked down the stairs onto an eighth-floor landing when Gurley and his girlfriend opened a stairwell door one floor down, after giving up on waiting for an elevator. Police said Liang, patrolling with his gun drawn, fired without a word and apparently by accident, hitting Gurley from a distance of about 10 feet.” Read more
- [New York Times] In New York, Thousands Protest Officer Liang’s Conviction: “Even if the reaction to Officer Liang’s conviction has stirred animosity, some have embraced the moment, viewing it as a sign that a community perceived by some as unwilling to stand up to authority would mobilize.” Read more
- [New York Post] Shirley Ng: Biased DA, city scapegoat the Asian-American community: “How can this be? Why is Liang, this rookie Asian-American cop, possibly going to prison for a tragic accident while others are never even charged?” Read more
- [Medium] Peter Liang Was Justly Convicted- He’s Not A Victim, Says This Niece of Vincent Chin: “Injustice is injustice. We should all agree that 1. People should not be killed, and 2. People who kill other people should be held accountable and face the consequences of their actions.” Read more
- [Angry Asian Man] OiYan Poon: What Are We Fighting For? White Privilege or Racial Justice in the Death of Akai Gurley: “Those who are angered by the double standard between how the state holds white and Chinese American officers accountable must fight in solidarity with African Americans and other people of color to transform a broken justice system.” Read more
- [Quartz] Jenn Fang: A system that doesn’t value black lives can never truly value Asian American lives: “Overaggressive policing leads to the death of a Black person every 28 hours. As Asian Americans, we remember the beatings of Kang Wong, Jessica Klyzek, and Sureshbhai Patel, and the shooting deaths of Fong Lee, Cau Bich Tran, Yong Xin Huang, and Michael Cho—all victims of excessive force by police.” Read more
- [Talking Points Memo] Why The Chinese Community Shouldn’t Rally Around Indicted Cop Peter Liang: “As a community, we can’t have it both ways. We can’t call for justice when an Asian person is harassed, targeted or killed by the police and then act to protect an Asian police officer when they’re the ones who’ve killed.” Read more
- [New York Times] Fatal Police Encounters in New York City: “Some of the most notable deaths since 1990 involving New York Police Department officers. Most did not lead to criminal charges; even fewer resulted in convictions.” Read more
Photo: NYPD by Franz Golhen