NYC to Pay $4M to Family of Akai Gurley
New York City will have to ante up to the tune of millions in payment to the family of a man who was shot to death in a Brooklyn, N.Y., housing project stairwell by an NYPD officer.
The city is paying $4.1 million and the New York City Housing Authority is contributing $400,000 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of 28-year-old Akai Gurley.
“I’m glad it’s all done. I’m pleased with the outcome,” Ballinger, 26, told the New York Daily News. The money will be placed in a fund for Gurley’s daughter, Akaila, which cannot be touched without a court order until she is 18.
The city’s Law Department called the settlement a “fair resolution of a tragic matter.”
Former Officer Peter Liang was on patrol in November 2014 when he opened a stairwell door at a public housing building and suddenly fired. The bullet ricocheted and hit Gurley. Liang will pay $25,000 to Kim Ballinger, the mother of Gurley’s daughter as part of the settlement.
Liang was sentenced to five years’ probation and 800 hours of community service; he later apologized to Gurley’s family.
Family attorney Scott Rynecki said the parties reached the settlement “after extensive negotiations guided by Supreme Court Justice Dawn Jimenez-Salta.”
The case became a flashpoint for police accountability. The shooting came just months after the deaths of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York prompted protests and a nationwide discussion of police killings.
Liang’s supporters said he has been made a scapegoat for past injustices. More than 10,000 of his backers rallied in New York and across the U.S. after the verdict, protesting his conviction.
A jury convicted him of manslaughter, but Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun said prosecutors hadn’t proven key elements of that charge and reduced it to criminally negligent homicide, a lowest-level felony. He said there was no need for prison “to have a just sentence in this case.”