STATEMENT OF ASSEMBLYMAN WILLIAM COLTON (D, WFP, 47 A.D. KINGS) ON THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE KINGS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY ON THE SENTENCING OF PETER LIANG
While the Press Release issued by the Kings County District Attorney, at least does not compound the injustice done to Peter Liang by recommending jail time, nonetheless it fails to correct the injustice created by the conviction of Peter Liang for manslaughter.
I am pleased to see that the statement of the District Atto...rney contradicts the closing statement made by its prosecuting attorney in the case who told the jury that the defendant was somehow aware that a person was in the stairwell and turned and pointed his gun intentionally shooting at the victim. This gross misstatement was not based on any facts or evidence presented in the case and should have resulted in the granting of the Defense Attorney’s motion for a mistrial.
A sentencing recommendation of five years probation, with six months of home confinement and 500 hundred hours of community service leaves Peter Liang, marked as a convicted felon.
Never before has a defendant been convicted of manslaughter based upon such a lack of law or facts to justify such a conviction.
The unjust conviction came about under a unique fact pattern which brought together both Peter Liang, a rookie NYC Police Officer, teamed with another rookie NYC Police officer, and Akai Gurley, a totally innocent person using the stairways because of the lack of dependability of the building elevators, in a notoriously crime ridden and dark stairway directly resulting from the failure of the NYC Housing Authority to maintain the Pink houses in a safe and habitable state.
Since the conviction we have seen both the New York Housing Authority and the New York City Police Department scampering to correct their own internal policy failures, which bear the true cause of this tragedy. NYCHA seeks to shift blame to its workers despite evidence that the lights were out for months and not merely one half hour from the end of a workers shift. The New York Police Department seeks to blame a training officer its charges failed to adequately provide CPR training to the two rookie officers, while promising to issue a directive no longer partnering two rookie officers.
Justice can only be achieved in this case by dismissing the conviction as not supported upon law or facts or in the alternative declaring a mistrial and overturning the conviction. Any other solution simply perpetuates the injustice and results in the continued seeking a scapegoat to distract from the failure of city agencies and city officials to meet their obligations properly.
To avoid a repeat of tragic event, city government and its officials must do better to deliver services to protect and serve the people of New York City.