Apparently the family of Akai Gurley, the New York man who was shot dead in a dark public housing stairwell in Brooklyn, N.Y. by a rookie cop, is divided over whether Rev. Al Sharpton should play a part in the man’s funeral on Saturday, spurring the activist to pull out the ceremony.
As reported, Gurley was described by NYPD chief Bill Bratton as a “total innocent” who was the victim of a tragic accident. Nevertheless, a grand jury will be impaneled to consider charges against Officer Peter Liang.
Meanwhile, after announcing Friday morning that Sharpton would give the eulogy at Gurley’s funeral in Brooklyn, National Action Network released the following statement in the evening:
After receiving information of an open dispute amongst the family of Akai Gurley, Rev. Al Sharpton and Mrs. Gwen Carr [mother of Eric Garner] have decided that they will not attend the services tonight or tomorrow and they hope that the families work out whatever their disputes are between the domestic partner, mother and aunt, and will pursue justice as a united front.
We have responded, as the media covered the last three weeks, to the domestic partner and sister of Akai Gurley wanting our involvement. We responded to the domestic partner and mother of his child as next of kin, and we mean no disrespect with others. Rev. Sharpton, who is overwhelmed with his work seeking justice in police misconduct cases involving Michael Brown and Eric Garner, was scheduled to speak at the private memorial service of former Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry and cancelled because of the request of these young ladies. NAN did not mean to interfere with any family dispute and remains available to assist once and if they work their situation out.
In a statement mid-day, Sharpton had said he had “altered his schedule” at the request of Kimberly Ballinger, who is Gurley’s domestic partner and the mother of his 2-year-old daughter. An article in the NY Post quoted an aunt of Gurley as saying his mother had not been contacted about Sharpton’s involvement.
NewsOne also received a statement by a representative for Kevin Powell, activist and founder of BK Nation, who is advising Gurley’s mother, Sylvia Palmer, and stepfather, Kenneth Palmer. It confirmed that Sharpton is not “involved with the [funeral] services or the parents of Akai Gurley.”
Benjamin Crump, who is co-counsel for Gurley’s family, confirmed to NewsOne that he will be among those who are attending the funeral.
According to a released statement by Powell, the funeral is Saturday, Dec, 6 at 11 a.m. E.T. in Brooklyn:
At Brown Memorial Baptist Church in the Fort Greene section, 484 Washington Avenue, at the corner of Gates Avenue. The family asks that all attending the funeral, either inside or outside (seating is on a first-come basis), to please assemble peacefully, with civility and respect for them and for Akai. And they want as many of you there as possible as we lift up this young man’s life cut down so tragically on the heels of #Ferguson and #EricGarner.