Free Press Journal

New York settles more than USD 4 million in death of black man


New York: The city of New York has agreed to pay more than USD 4 million to the family of an unarmed black father of one, who was shot dead by a police officer.

Akai Gurley, 28, was shot in a darkened stairwell of a public housing building in November 2014 after taking the stairs when the elevator took too long to arrive in the poorly maintained apartment block.

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He was killed by a police bullet that ricocheted off the wall.

Gurley’s death, as with those of other unarmed black men at the hands of police, sparked nationwide protests and debate about police tactics and allegations of institutional racism.

The total settlement comes to more than USD 4.5 million, with USD 4.1 million payable by the city, USD 400,000 by the housing authority and USD 25,000 by the officer who shot Gurley, a lawyer for the family told AFP.

Peter Liang, who had been on the force just months, was found guilty of manslaughter by jury in February and sacked from the police.

In April, a judge downgraded his conviction to criminally negligent homicide and sentenced him to five years probation and 800 hours community service.

Gurley’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city in May 2015.

The settlement was reached on Monday afternoon in the Brooklyn Supreme Court. Kimberly Ballinger, the mother of Gurley’s four-year-old daughter, is pleased with the results, her lawyer Scott Rynecki said.

“She wants to be able to move on with her life and she now hopes she can raise the child to be someone Akai would be proud of,” he told AFP.

The funds will be held in a trust for Gurley’s daughter, although her mother, a home health aide, can request monthly payments to help bring her up, he said.