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Donations for Peter Liang's case are reaching a critical mass, according to Chinese community leaders.

Eddie Choi, president of the Lin Sing Association of New York, said on Wednesday

that his group and the Brooklyn Asian Communities Empowerment had raised more than $600,000 to support Liang's legal fees for the appeal of his manslaughter conviction.

Liang, now 28, was a rookie cop on patrol in a Brooklyn housing project in 2014 when he fired his gun. A stray bullet ricocheted off a wall, fatally striking Akai Gurley, 28, on a lower floor.

"We had collected approximately $600,000 in total and we can afford better lawyers to help Liang," Choi told China Daily.

Choi said at least three lawyers had met with Liang's family this week, but no formal arrangement had been made yet.

John Chan, chairman of Asian Community Empowerment in Brooklyn, said that about $100,000 from the total donation had been given to subsidize Liang's family.

Chan hoped all the money would be used in an appropriate way because all the contributors, most of whom were Asian Americans, donated the money to help Liang's appeal and reverse what they consider to be an unjust trial.

"The ultimate decision on how to spend the money is in the hands of Liang's family," Chan said.

Chan said Liang would continue with the appeal, and new lawyers would be selected by the end of this week.

"Peter and his family were very thankful for all the help from Chinese communities across the US," Chan said.

Long Yifan in New York contributed to the story.

(China Daily USA 03/03/2016 page2)