Akai Gurley's Family Settles With New York City Over Police Shooting Death

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A demonstrator peers at a memorial to Akai Gurley at a public housing complex in Brooklyn, N.Y. Gurley was shot and killed by an NYPD officer in November 2014.
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The family of an unarmed black man fatally shot by a New York police officer two years ago will receive more than $4 million from the city to settle a wrongful-death claim.

New York City will pay $4.1 million to the family of 28-year-old Akai Gurley. In addition, NPR's Joel Rose reports, the city's Housing Authority will pay $400,000.

As The Two-Way blog has reported, Gurley was shot on Nov. 20, 2014, by rookie NYPD Officer Peter Liang, who was patrolling a Brooklyn housing project at the time. Liang said he accidentally fired his weapon when he heard a noise in a darkened stairwell. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit Gurley several floors below.

Liang, who was faulted for not aiding Gurley, was found guilty of manslaughter in February and was fired from the NYPD. A judge later reduced that conviction to criminally negligent homicide and sentenced Liang to five years' probation and 800 hours of community service.

As part of the settlement, Liang will pay $25,000 to Kim Ballinger, the mother of Gurley's young daughter. The New York Daily News has more:

"The money will be put into a fund for Akaila which can't be touched without court approval until she is 18. But the money will be invested in rock-solid annuities that will actually provide the girl with an estimated $10 million over the course of her lifetime.

" 'I'm glad it's all done. I'm pleased with the outcome,' Ballinger, 26, told The News Monday, while waiting for Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dawn Jimenez-Salta to sign off on the settlement late in the afternoon."

The Daily News adds that "Ballinger's wrongful death suit charged Liang and his co-worker Shaun Landau of being negligent and reckless, and [NYC Housing Authority] was cited for failing to repair a light bulb in the stairwell where the fatal shooting occurred Nov. 20, 2014."

As we've reported, the story of Gurley's death and Liang's prosecution was closely watched "in part because the case arose amid a string of high-profile police killings of unarmed black men. Gurley was shot four months after Eric Garner died in Staten Island, N.Y., and three months after Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Mo."

The case against Liang, who is the son of Chinese immigrants, also was a flashpoint for Asian-Americans in New York and across the U.S., many of whom were concerned that Liang was being scapegoated.

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