New York City has agreed to pay the family of Akai Gurley $4.1 million dollars, according to the New York Post, capping the end of the family’s wrongful death lawsuit filed after their loved one was shot and killed by an NYPD officer in 2014 while walking down a dark stairwell.
The Post reports that the New York City Housing Authority will also pay $400,000, while Peter Liang, the cop found guilty of criminal negligent homicide in Gurley’s shooting, will pay an additional $25,000. Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dawn Jimenez-Salta signed the agreement on Monday afternoon.
Scott Rynecki, a lawyer for the Gurley family, said the family was pleased with the settlement. “At this point, we’re hoping that the new incoming police commissioner, James O’Neill, will take this opportunity to review the policy and training that takes place at the academy, as well as the procedure of allowing two rookies to go on patrol together,” Rynecki said.
City Hall spokeswoman Monica Klein promised that the current leadership is working on strengthening ties between city officials and its communities.
Rynecki said Kimberly Ballinger, mother to Gurley’s 3-year-old daughter Akaila, is ready to move on and “raise their daughter to become a woman and a person Akai would be proud of.”
On November 20, 2014, Liang and partner Shaun Landau were patrolling the Louis Pink Houses project stairwells in Brooklyn. As Gurley walked the stairwell within the confines of darkness, Liang fired his 9mm gun and the bullet bounced off a wall, striking Gurley in the heart. Liang claimed the shooting was an accident.
Liang was indicted for reckless manslaughter after Assistant District Attorney Joseph Alexi urged that Liang intentionally fired. He was found guilty of a lesser charge – criminally negligent homicide – and escaped jail sentencing at the urging of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson and Chinese-American community leaders. He was sentenced to five years probation with 800 hours of community service.
Gurley’s death occurred in the midst of social justice upheaval as the country grappled with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman. Earlier in the summer of 2014, Michael Brown and Eric Garner were also killed by police, inciting protests and calls for justice in Ferguson and New York City. And just two days after Gurley’s shooting death, Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Cleveland boy, was shot and killed by police while holding a toy gun in a nearby park.
SOURCE: New York Post | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty