The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Editorial – NY officer made scapegoat

A New York police officer was recently found guilty of second-degree manslaughter in the November 2014 shooting of Akai Gurley, an unarmed African-American man.

However, Peter Liang, the officer who was convicted, has been the rally call of thousands of Asian-Americans protesting that Liang is being used as a scapegoat for the injustices of previous actions held by cops who haven’t been held accountable.

Liang, who had less than 18 months of experience with the NYPD at the time of the shooting, was doing his “vertical patrol” in the stairwell of the Louis Pink Houses in a section of Brooklyn on Nov. 20, when he was startled and accidentally discharged his gun. The bullet ricocheted off the wall and struck Gurley once in the chest as he entered the stairwell.

The recent case has brought up questions, such as whether a rookie should perform “vertical patrols” as compared to an experienced officer.

Though many view the actions of Liang as purely an accident, others have called for justice, saying the rookie cop should be held accountable for Gurley’s death. The jury agreed.

The conviction, let alone indictment, contrasts with the lack of punishments of other officers involved in fatal incidents, such as the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island. Officer Daniel Pantaleo used a chokehold on Garner, which is prohibited by NYPD regulations and was caught on video. Still, a grand jury refused to indict Pantaleo.

Cathy Dang, the executive director of the Committee against Anti-Asian Violence, an organization that addresses police and hate violence toward Asian-Americans, has been the forerunner of protests for Liang.

However, while Dang still expresses that the evidence provided in the case proves Liang is guilty, she claims the broken justice system has used Liang as a sacrificial lamb to compensate the actions of other police officers.

Without a doubt, there are flaws in our justice system. The amount of injustices against unarmed black men is appalling. This is the first indictment and conviction of a NYPD police officer in a decade, when Bryan Conroy was sentenced to probation and 500 hours of community service for killing an African immigrant.

Conroy’s sentencing compared to Liang’s, where he faces up to 15 years in prison, is unjust and unfair.

Ron Kim, a state assemblyman for Queens, holds sentiment for both Gurley and Liang and holds the same feelings many protesters share.

“Our system failed Gurley and it failed Liang,” Kim said in a statement. “It pitted the unjust death of an innocent young black man against the unjust scapegoating of a young Asian police officer who was frightened, poorly trained, and who committed a terrible accident.”

Justice was received for the death of Akai Gurley. However, the death of Eric Garner has been nowhere close to closure of any degree, despite clear and valid evidence. The system needs reform, and it needs to hold all cops accountable for their actions instead of putting the injustices of all cops on one.

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