Jurors expressed shock and dismay Friday over Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson’s recommendation of a no-jail sentence for the ex-NYPD cop who killed Akai Gurley.
“What was the point of prosecuting him?” asked a 62-year-old juror who requested anonymity. “What did we do this for?”
“I agree he doesn’t deserve tremendous time,” the juror added, “but if something is wrong, you shouldn’t get a slap on the wrist.”
Former Officer Peter Liang faces up to 15 years in prison after he was convicted of manslaughter in the November 2014 slaying of Gurley, 28.
The unarmed father was mortally wounded when a bullet fired by Liang ricocheted into his chest inside a darkened stairwell at the Pink Houses in East New York.
Thompson has been under attack from Gurley’s loved ones and supporters since he sent a letter to the sentencing judge recommending Liang perform 500 hours of community service, five years’ probation and home confinement for six months.
“Wow. Is this right?” a stunned second juror said after being told about the letter by a Daily News reporter.
The 62-year-old juror noted that his own father served more than seven years in prison for accidentally shooting a friend.
“You cannot put away the average person’s thoughts here just because they are police officers,” the juror said. “They deserve to be prosecuted and sentenced just like everyone else who has the same background or committed the same crime.”
The Brooklyn resident said he believes Thompson was swayed by pressure from the Asian community, which vigorously protested the charges brought against Liang.
“I think the Asian community played a lot with the DA’s decision and got to him,” the juror said.
But not all of the jurors had harsh words for Thompson.
“He is doing his job and I can’t question him,” said Carlton Screen, 69, the only African-American among the 12-person panel. “That’s how he felt and he is doing what he needs to do as a man in the position, the district attorney.”
The jurors spoke out a day after a remorseful Liang offered a face-to-face apology to Kimberly Ballinger, the mother of Gurley’s 3-year-old daughter Akaila.
Liang is slated to be sentenced on April 14.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton praised Thompson for his “courage” in urging the judge to spare Liang a prison sentence.
“Thompson has a right to make these recommendations,” Bratton said on 1010 WINS radio.
“He is intimate with all the circumstances in this case and I applaud him for making this decision.”