The issues between law enforcement and the communities they serve, primarily minority ones boils down to this. The same ones who are supposed to protect too often make reckless decisions than are not punished accordingly for it.
Let’s take the case of Akai Gurley, 28-year-old man who was fatally shot in NYC apartment hallway while unarmed in November 2014 by police officer Peter Liang. Officer Liang was found guilty of manslaughter. Yay, a win for the people we thought. A police officer was finally going to be held responsible for his reckless behavior, and it was definitely reckless. Reckless enough that Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson went as far to say as much.
“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.
Now this same man, DA Ken Thompson, decided that the reckless behavior of officer Liang wasn’t worthy of jail time even though someone’s life was lost, and was convicted by a jury of manslaughter.
“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.”
So let me get this straight? Officer Liang did his job recklessly, but didn’t mean to kill anyone. Akai Gurley did however die, and now officer Liang shouldn’t go to jail because he’s a police officer? I mean what other explanation is there for why a person who caused the death of another person should not go to jail?
This was a hard decision for the DA though, and these comments should let you know just how hard it was.
“As I have said before, there are no winners here,” said Thompson. “But the sentence that I have requested is just and fair under the circumstances of this case.”
It must hurt the family of Akai Gurley to hear the DA say the words “Just and fair under the circumstances of this case”, not because there’s no winners in the case as the DA would like you to believe, but because if the shoe was on the opposite foot would the district attorney think it would be just and fair to let a murder go home because of his profession?
“Because the incarceration of the defendant is not necessary to protect the public, and because of the unique circumstances of this case, the People do not believe that a prison sentence is warranted,” Thompson wrote in a letter to Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun.
This is what the Gurley family will have to live with for the rest of their lives. To know that while their father, son and loved one life was taken with reckless abandonment, “the people” of New York City don’t believe that a prison sentence is warranted for the man who took his life, and why is that? Because the district attorney won’t prosecute police to the same extent as civilians. Must be nice to be the people.