Liang faces sentencing on April 19

Updated: 2016-04-15 12:55

By HEZI JIANG in New York(

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Ex-New York police officer Peter Liang will face sentencing for his manslaughter conviction on April 19 after a New York judge on Thursday rejected a mistrial motion in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in the stairwell of a Brooklyn public housing project.

Supreme Court Justice Denny Chun issued his ruling after two days of hearings.

Liang could face up to 15 years imprisonment, but on March 23 Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson recommended that instead of jail time, Chun sentence Liang to five years probation with six months of home confinement and 500 hours of community service.

Liang was convicted in the fatal shooting of Akai Gurley in 2014. Gurley was not armed. Liang was on a routine vertical patrol, opened a door to the stairwell and he said that he accidentally fired his weapon. The bullet ricocheted and struck Gurley, who died at the scene.

In the mistrial motion, Liang's lawyers argued that juror Michael Vargas, 62, "lied knowingly and for the purpose of securing a seat on the jury”. But Chun found that Vargas had not deliberately lied.

Vargas told the judge during jury selection process that no close family of his had been accused of a crime. But after the verdict, a newspaper quoted him saying his father served more than seven years in prison for accidentally shooting a friend. Vargas said that he didn't disclose his father's crime because he didn't consider him a close family member, and he didn't know the details of the crime.

Asked when was the last time he met his father, Vargas said it was “35, 40 years ago”.

Liang's attorneys also questioned Vargas about his posts on Facebook about police misconduct and his comments, including, "Are the police a legal gang?", "Who's the one that needs help?" and "Every time police shoot an unarmed person, they bring this country one step closer to a revolution.”

During cross-examination, prosecutors asked Vargas about Facebook posts in which he spoke positively about police.