NYC to pay $4.1 million to Akai Gurley's family in police shooting settlement
New York City will pay more than $4 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of an unarmed black man killed by a New York Police Department officer in 2014, the New York Daily News reported Monday.
The family of 28-year-old Akai Gurley will receive payments from the city, the city's public housing authority and Peter Liang, the now-former officer convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Gurley's death, according to a lawyer for the family. The city will pay the bulk of the settlement.
Kimberly Ballinger, Gurley's domestic partner and the mother of their 4-year-old daughter, Akaila, told the Daily News the money would be put into a trust fund. Akaila cannot touch the money without court approval until she turns 18.
"I'm glad it's all done," Ballinger said. "I'm pleased with the outcome."
The settlement with Gurley's family is at least the third city-approved agreement over a police-involved death in two years. In July 2015, the city agreed to a $5.9 million settlement over a claim brought by the family of Eric Garner, who died after a 2014 fatal encounter with police in Staten Island, New York.
In January 2015, the city agree to a $3.9 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Ramarley Graham, who died after a 2012 police shooting inside of his Bronx, New York, home.
Negotiation of the settlement took two months, according to media reports. It comes five months after Liang, 29, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter of Gurley. The NYPD fired Liang after his conviction, for which he was sentenced to five years of probation and 800 hours of community service.
On Nov. 20, 2014, Gurley was fatally struck by Liang's bullet that ricocheted off the walls of a darkened stairwell in a Brooklyn public housing building, according to the New York Times. Liang, a rookie on the force, reportedly texted a police union rep while Gurley lay dying in the stairwell. Although Liang and police officials described the shooting as accidental, the case helped spark nationwide protests over a string of police-involved deaths of African-Americans.
Since Gurley's death, city officials have pledged to revise officers' use-of-force training, among other reforms. On Aug. 2, Mayor Bill de Blasio announcement the replacement for NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, who resigned.
"We hope the new incoming Police Commissioner James O'Neill will use this case as an example to review practices and procedures that are ongoing in the [police] academy..." Scott Rynecki, Ballinger's attorney, told the Daily News.