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US officer in black man murder spared time behind bars

24 March 2016 9:31


US prosecutors say they will not seek prison time for a New York police officer convicted of manslaughter over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man.

Officer Peter Liang was convicted of manslaughter in February after the 2014 shooting death of Akai Gurley.

However, on Wednesday, Brooklyn District attorney Ken Thompson said there is no evidence that Liang intended to kill or injure Gurley.

“Because his incarceration is not necessary to protect the public, and due to the unique circumstances of this case, a prison sentence is not warranted,” Thompson said in a statement.

Gurley was shot in the chest in Brooklyn but police say Liang had fired apparently by accident.

The officer was patrolling at a public housing high-rise with his gun drawn when he said a sudden sound jolted him and he fired. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit Gurley on a lower floor.

Prosecutors have recommended five years probation and six months home confinement instead.

They also argued Liang’s actions were reckless and he should not have had his gun out.

Gurley’s family said they are “outraged” at the “betrayal of that promise” that Thompson would “not allow officers to act as if they are above the law”.

Liang and his partner allegedly retreated from the scene instead of helping the injured man.

Police brutality has become a major concern across the nation in recent years.

The US Justice Department is under intense pressure to review the use of brutal force by law enforcement officers.

A recent study has found that almost half of the people who die at the hands of the US police have some kind of mental or physical disability. The findings also reveal that most of the victims have been killed in situations where lethal force was not needed.

Police in the United States killed over 1,150 people in 2015, with the largest police departments disproportionately killing at least 321 African Americans, according to data compiled by an activist group that runs the Mapping Police Violence project.

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