Juror says he didn't lie after ex-cop Peter Liang's attorneys ask for retrial

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Diana Rocco reporting live

The attorneys for the former NYPD officer convicted of shooting and killing an unarmed man in Brooklyn filed paperwork Tuesday seeking a retrial, saying one of the jurors didn't give correct information during jury selection.

Peter Liang's attorneys said Juror No. 9 - Michael Vargas - did not disclose that a close family member had been accused of a crime.

"I'd rather tell the judge," Vargas said.

Vargas was reluctant to talk at first about what he told the court during jury selection, but he soon got over his shyness.

"I don't think I lied," Vargas said.

Vargas sat on the jury that convicted Former Police Officer Peter Liang of shooting Akai Gurley in a stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project.

During jury selection, Vargas was asked if he knew anyone convicted of a major crime. Judge Chun said "I'm talking about close family or yourself."

Vargas answered "no, no."

But Vargas' biological father, who did not raise him, served time in prison for an accidental shooting.

"You did know him at some point," Eyewitness News Reporter Jim Dolan said.

"I did know of him, yeah, I have his picture," Vargas said.

"Did you know him, did you meet him?" Dolan asked.

"I did meet him, but I never lived with him. He never even disciplined me. Ever," Vargas said.

Attorneys for Liang are asking for a new trial. They say Vargas may have wanted to make sure the police officer got convicted just as his father did.

"Did I want to be on a jury? Yeah. For many years I've been through the jury process and I've been on two cases, this is the second case. Did I lie to get on the case? Absolutely not," Vargas said.

The Kings County District Attorney's Office issued a statement saying, "Peter Liang received a fair trial and we will respond to the motion in court."

Vargas said he has heard that the District Attorney is not recommending jail time for Liang, and he thinks that the police officer should go to jail.

"To give him freedom? If I did a crime and you said to me, stay home in my apartment for six months. If somebody could bring me food, I'm good!" Vargas said.

Liang, a rookie cop, faces 15 years in prison for the deadly shooting of Akai Gurley inside a poorly lit stairwell in the pink houses in East New York back in November 2014. The 28-year-old father was unarmed.

The jury convicted Liang of manslaughter in February. He's set to be sentenced next week.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson at the end of March recommended that Liang get a mixture of house arrest, probation and community service.

"There is no evidence, however, that he intended to kill or injure Akai Gurley. When Mr. Liang went into that building that night, he did so as part of his job and to keep the people of Brooklyn and our city safe," Thompson said in a statement March 23.

Related Topics:
nypdbrooklyn newsEast New YorkNew York City
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