The primary difference between Liang’s case and that of other officer-involved deaths is that there is no theory presented that Liang acted in self-defense, as the victim in this matter was not within the sight or presence of Officer Liang when he was injured.
The Stansbury case can be distinguish because the law differentiates between an “accidental” action and a “reckless” action. Liang’s choice to use force to open the door while he was carrying his unholstered weapon was reckless. Stansbury’s actions were precipitated not by an action that he took, but by the action of the person who opened the door. It may be a fine line, but in the law it’s an important one.
It’s not that he opened the door that separates Liang from the other cases. It’s the manner in which he opened the door. He used the shoulder of the arm carrying the gun to do so. He didn’t fire because he was startled, unlike the other cases cited. He discharged his gun because he made an affirmative, bad choice. Not all “accidents” are the same under the law, and there is a big legal difference between responding to a startling incident and making a really bad choice.
The proximate cause of the discharge of officer Liang’s firearm was his reckless choice in how to open the door. That is why he was convicted and others have not been.