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NYPD Officer Convicted of Manslaughter

  • VOA News

Police officer Peter Liang, second from left, sits with his legal team in his trial on charges in the shooting death of Akai Gurley at Brooklyn Supreme court in New York, Feb. 11, 2016.

Police officer Peter Liang, second from left, sits with his legal team in his trial on charges in the shooting death of Akai Gurley at Brooklyn Supreme court in New York, Feb. 11, 2016.

A New York City police officer was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter Thursday for fatally shooting an unarmed black man in 2014.

Peter Liang, 28, is the first New York police officer convicted in an on-duty death since 2005.

Liang was also convicted of official misconduct, a misdemeanor. He was dismissed from the New York Police Department right after the verdict.

Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun has yet to rule on Liang's lawyers' request to dismiss the charges.

The manslaughter charge is a felony which carries up to 15 years in prison. Liang's sentencing is set for April 14. He remains free on bail.

The verdict came after 17 hours of jury deliberations that started Tuesday.

Liang was patrolling a darkened public housing high-rise with his gun drawn when he fired. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit Akai Gurley, 28, on a lower floor.

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said "justice was done" for Gurley, adding that "he was an innocent man who was killed by a police officer who violated his training."

Liang testified that he had been holding his weapon safely, with his finger on the side and not the trigger, when a sudden sound jarred him and his body tensed.

Liang's defense team said they found it hard to understand how the jury could find him guilty in a shooting he said happened accidentally in a pitch-dark stairway. One of his lawyers said they would appeal the verdict.

The shooting happened in a year of debate in the United States about police killings of unarmed black men. Liang is Chinese-American.

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