Thursday, March 24, 2016
The right sentence for Peter Liang
‘The fact that he says he’s sorry didn’t bring Akai back,” Kimberly Ballinger told her lawyer after meeting Thursday with Peter Liang — the now-former cop who accidentally killed her love.
Nothing’s bringing Akai Gurley back. That’s been the fact ever since Liang wrongly opened that Pink Houses stairwell door with his gun in hand back in November 2014 — and the gun went off, the wild shot hit Gurley and both Liang and his partner failed to administer CPR, apparently because neither was properly trained.
Nothing can make up for the fact that Ballinger lost her life partner, or that 3-year-old Akaila will never know her dad.
And nothing’s changing the fact that Liang, who was sworn to protect law-abiding New Yorkers, instead wound up taking an innocent life.
Convicted last month of manslaughter, Liang faces sentencing on April 14. His life, too, is changed — the future he’d imagined gone forever, with no clue how he’ll try to put the pieces back together after he’s paid for his crime.
Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson has opted not to ask for prison time for Liang. Instead, he’s calling for five years’ probation, six months of home confinement and 500 hours of community service. That roughly matches the sentence in the last similar case, another cop’s wrongful line-of-duty killing back in 2005.
It’s not enough for some: Assemblyman Charles Barron threatens riots if the judge follows the DA’s recommendation, and other New Yorkers surely want a stronger message sent.
But sending political messages isn’t the point of the justice system. The courts exist to do the people’s business, and Ken Thompson is the people’s elected Brooklyn district attorney.
As the DA noted, there’s zero evidence Liang “intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley.” Rather, when he “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.”
It’s hard to see how prison time would serve the people’s interests.