A judge ruled that an ex-NYPD officer found guilty of killing an innocent black man in a Brooklyn housing project does not deserve a new trial, after the defense raised concerns during the sentencing phase that one juror previously made anti-cop comments online.
Peter Liang was convicted of manslaughter by the jury in February, after the panel heard testimony he shot Akai Gurley without provocation as the unarmed, 26-year-old dad was walking down a stairwell.
Juror Michael Vargas failed to disclose that his father served seven years in prison for manslaughter during jury selection, the defense said. The team then dug up a number of comments Vargas made online that were critical of police.
But, prosecutors also pointed to other positive comments Vargas made about the police on Facebook, according to the New York Daily News.
The report said Supreme Court Justice Denny Chun said Vargas may have rambled in his answers during jury selection, but that the misleading answers did not warrant a mistrial. Vargas also previously told the Daily News that Vargas felt bad for Liang, prayed for him and compared him to his own nephew, also a police officer.
“There’s nothing in post verdict statements indicating that he wanted to get on this jury to convict the defendant,” Chun told the paper.
Liang’s attorney reportedly said he would appeal the case.
Liang, now 28, accidentally shot Gurley on Nov. 20, 2014 during a routine patrol in East New York's Pink Houses.
He was also accused of not helping the injured man as he bled to death.