Mother of indicted New York police officer: Son devoted to city

Updated: 2015-02-26 11:52

By Niu Yue in New York(China Daily USA)

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The mother of Peter Liang, the NYPD officer under indictment for shooting and killing an African American man, is speaking out, while the local Chinese community tries to rally support.

"I am very sorry for the victim," said Ho Fong, Liang's mother, in a statement released on Wednesday. "This has put both the victim's family and our family in deep sorrow."

"Since he was a child, Peter has always been enthusiastic about serving our society, eager to help people and someone who loves his family," said the statement. "When Peter decided to become a police officer, which is a dangerous job, we didn't agree. But we couldn't stop Peter from devoting himself to our city."

 Mother of indicted New York police officer: Son devoted to city

Community leaders have moment of silence for Akai Gurley before voicing their concerns on Officer's Peter Liang case in New York. Lu Huiquan / For China Daily

Liang, 27, was patrolling a Brooklyn public housing complex on Nov 20 when he drew his weapon in a darkened stairwell. The gun discharged and the ricocheted bullet hit and killed Akai Gurley, 28.

Liang is now under indictment, facing six charges, including second-degree manslaughter.

The mother's statement was read aloud by Phil Gim, a businessman and community leader in Queens, at a press conference with more than 30 local community leaders on Wednesday.

Liang's mother did not appear at the event. She gave her statement to community leaders on Tuesday from her home.

Liang's case is viewed by some as a scapegoat to relieve racial tensions between the police and ethnic minorities, after white police officers who killed unarmed African Americans in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island were not indicted.

The press conference on Wednesday began with a moment of silence for Akai Gurley.

"We feel sorry and sympathy for the deceased," said John Chan, chairman of Brooklyn Asian Communities Empowerment in New York, who organized the event.

Participants voiced concern over the politics surrounding Liang's case and stressed the importance of unity and visibility in Chinese communities.

"It could be someone else," said Gim. "I do believe if somebody else [fired the gun], it would be the same, because the DA (Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson) needs to show that he is doing something against the police department."

"We are fighting for fairness to Liang, and we are also fighting for how our next generation will live in the United States," said Feng Mengxue, who launched a petition to withdraw Liang's indictment on the White House's "We the People" website. The petition has received more than 120,000 signatures in less than a week.

Activists are reportedly planning a march to show support.

Asked by reporters what they think would happen if an African-American officer had killed a Chinese American in the same situation, Chinese community leaders said it would not draw as much attention, citing Chinese Americans' lack of political presence.

"It wouldn't get on the news," said Jerry Chan, a US veteran and community leader. "There are two victims here. We need to sit down with the family and ask: What can we do as a community to help you out?"

Admitting Liang did contribute to Gurley's death, others pointed out that the NYPD did not do enough to prepare rookie officers for their jobs. "The NYPD Police Academy should be put on trial," said Steven Wong, a local community activist.

Wong said Liang, a rookie officer with only 18 months in service, shouldn't have been assigned to East New York, a place with a high crime rate.

The NYPD is currently pushing ahead a reform to partner rookie officers with more experienced cops in patrolling high-crime areas.

Lu Huiquan in New York contributed to this story.

(China Daily USA 02/26/2015 page2)