Asian leaders gathered in hopes of raising attention to the manslaughter conviction of Peter Liang, who was a former New York City police officer.
Liang, 28, could be sentenced to 5 to 15 years for shooting Akai Gurley, an unarmed man, in the stairwell of a housing project in Brooklyn back in 2014.
That sentiment was echoed by a number of Brooklyn protesters who held up signs with pictures of Liang's face and text that read "Tragedy not crime" and 'An accident is not a felony!' One woman held a sign reading 'One tragedy, two victims!'
A few hundred protesters gathered in Wesley Bolin Plaza near the state capitol Saturday, part of a nationwide demonstration against the conviction of a former NYPD officer.
"We mourn the accidental death of African American Akai Gurley and we understand the furor left by the thousands of police shooting-related deaths in the last decade", an organizer for Saturday's rally wrote. Liang's supporters have said the conviction is unfair and that the officer was made a scapegoat.
Jack Ouyang, spokesman for the Coalition of Justice for Liang, said the officer was unfairly targeted. Prosecutors argued that his actions were reckless and that he shouldn't have had his gun out or finger on the trigger.
"I just wanted to express my feelings", Maw said in a telephone interview after the Portland event.
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Liang's verdict was condemned at the time by the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, Patrick J. Lynch, while Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said the police commissioner needs to re-evaluate patrolling policy. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit Gurley on a lower floor.
Gilbert Lee whose third-generation Chinese American son Kevin was killed in the line of duty in 2006, said, "It's hard to say when it's an accident and when it's a shooting".
"I think you have to examine Peter Liang's case in the context of wrong time, wrong place". Yonghon Tan, a Chinese American in her thirties, took the R train from Elmhurst after the van she'd lined up for was too full to accommodate any more passengers.
Liang and Landau were on a so-called vertical patrol of the building and checking out the stairwell when Gurley and a friend, Melissa Butler, made a decision to use the stairs when the elevator did not arrive.
Liang said he initially looked with his flashlight, saw no one and didn't immediately report the shot, instead quarreling with his partner about who would call their sergeant.
"It is a tragedy", she said of the fatal shooting. "No scapegoat!" protesters in NY shouted, carrying signs to declare Liang's prosecution as "selective justice". He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14. Cars drove slowly down the surrounding streets, horns honking as supporters held signs out of the windows.