The City of New York will pay $4.1 million after the shooting death of an unarmed Brooklyn man by a police officer. The family of Akai Gurley will start receiving payments when Gurley’s 4-year-old daughter, Akaila, reaches the age of 18. The settlement also requires that a college fund be set up for Akaila.
According to witnesses, Gurley, then 28, was killed on November 20, 2014, by a bullet from the gun of New York City police officer Peter Liang. Liang and a partner testified that they were patrolling stairwells in the city’s Louis H. Pink Houses, when they entered an unlit stairwell at the seventh floor. Liang and his partner were both rookie officers and were conducting routine vertical sweeps, going to every floor of a housing project to see if a crime is in progress. Authorities say that Liang had been instructed by his commander not to conduct vertical patrols.
Evidence showed that Gurley entered the stairwell after leaving his girlfriend’s apartment, and was about 14 steps below Liang. Witnesses say that no words were exchanged, but that Liang drew his weapon and a flashlight. As he opened a door, his gun accidentally discharged, ricocheting off a wall and hitting Gurley in the chest. Witnesses say Gurley initially ran after the shot was fired, but stopped on the fifth floor, when he discovered he was bleeding. He died at the scene.
Court documents indicate that Liang will pay $25,000 of the settlement, the New York City Housing Authority will pay $400,000 and the city of New York will pay the rest of the settlement.