Published: Mon, February 15, 2016
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

NYPD Officer Peter Liang 'Guilty' of Manslaughter in Akai Gurley Shooting

Liang, who is Asian American, is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14. Jurors in Baltimore couldn't agree on a verdict for an officer accused of manslaughter in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal injury while riding in the back of a police van.

Liang had been on the job only 11 months when the incident occurred during a routine patrol with his partner on November 20, 2014. The jury has now spoken, and we respect their decision. Police Commissioner claimed that Mr. Gurley "just happened" to be in the dark stairwell when the officer fired his gun.

He declined to comment as he left the courthouse after the verdict.

Liang pictured above as he is led from the courtroom after hearing the verdict.

Gurley's family and friends welcomed the conviction. Witness testimony said Liang "did nothing" to help the victim.

The 28-year-old Liang said he had been holding his weapon safely, with his finger on the side and not the trigger, when the sudden sound jarred him and his body tensed.

Two high-profile deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police in the summer of 2014 sparked mass protests against police tactics and accusations of racism.

Liang testified he had his gun drawn because he was fearful of the darkened stairwell and accidentally fired his weapon when he "heard something". He acknowledged not helping Gurley's girlfriend try to revive him, but Liang explained he thought it was wiser to wait for professional medical aid.

Deliberations stretched into Thursday evening, after jurors asked to review the New York Police Department firearms guide late in the afternoon. "Peter Liang was made a scapegoat for the association with Mike Brown and Eric Garner", Lee said.

The verdict sent shockwaves throughout the police community.

Gurley, whose family relocated to the U.S. from St Thomas when he was a baby, landed in the neighborhood's Louis Pink houses in 2010 when he moved in with girlfriend Kimberly Ballinger. He has vowed to appeal.

Mr. Liang's lawyers had argued that he was in a state of shock over what he had done; they said he felt unqualified to perform CPR, as is required of an officer under such circumstances, because he received poor training at the Police Academy.

"He chose to point his gun", said the prosecutor, Joseph Alexis. The judge didn't immediately issue a ruling on that request. The defendant admitted he was afraid he might get fired. Volpe ultimately plead guilty during the trial and is serving a 30-year federal prison term.

"This officer was indicted not because of what is happening elsewhere in the country but because of what happened in that stairwell", Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson told the Associated Press. As the jury read the verdict on Thursday, the courtroom audience gasped and Officer Liang broke into tears.

Brown, the defense lawyer, said the jury may have been swayed when the prosecution "changed their entire argument".

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