LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) —  Thousands of people in several cities rallied Saturday to support a Chinese-American New York City police officer who was found guilty of manslaughter this month in the 2014 fatal shooting of an unarmed black man.

Peter Liang said the shooting was a tragic accident.

His supporters believe Liang is being made the fall guy for a serious national problem.

Liang said his gun accidentally went off when he shot 28-year-old Akai Gurley in a public housing stairwell. Gurley was just leaving his apartment at the time of the shooting. The officer said he was startled by Gurley coming down the stairwell.

In LA, protesters held signs for Liang and Gurley.

Similar rallies were held in 40 US cities, including Brooklyn, New York, Ann Arbor, Michigan, San Francisco and Philadelphia; three Canadian cities and Hong Kong.

CBS2’s Laurie Perez reported about the rally in Los Angeles.

“Justice for all! No more scapegoats!,” they chanted — sometimes in English, often in Mandarin.

Perez said one message echoed throughout the rally.  They called it “selective justice.”

Liang’s supporters say officials punished him more severely because of the epidemic of shootings around the US involving men, usually black, and unarmed by law enforcement.

His supporters believe Liang is being made a scapegoat to help lessen tensions between law enforcement and minority groups.

“We should not be selectively prosecuting anybody to just to try to ease the tension, We should’ve found the solution, look deep in the system how to solve the problem how to make our society better,” Yining Hou.

Liang was a rookie in 2014 and his supporters say he was poorly trained and he’s a victim, just like Gurley is. Liang said he was startled by a noise in the stairwell — his gun went off and the bullet ricocheted and hit Gurley in the chest.

The district attorney believed Liang purposely fired his weapon towards the noise that startled him and had to know it was a human being. The jury agreed.

“It’s an accident, a tragedy, we’re sorry we really feel sorry for what happened but it’s an accident,” said Liang supporter Amy Choi.

Liang’s partner was also fired after the guilty verdict was reached. Liang faces up to 15 years in prison when he’s sentenced in April.