NBC News reports today that a settlement was reached in a civil suit filed by the Gurley family following the killing of 28-year-old Akai Gurley in late 2014. According to NBC, the City of New York will pay $4.1 million dollars, while an additional $400,000 will be paid by the New York City Housing Authority, and $25,000 will be paid by former NYPD officer, Peter Liang, who fired the fatal shot.
All settlement money will be deposited into a fund to be held in trust for Gurley’s four-year-old daughter, Akaila, until she is 18.
Gurley died on November 20, 2014 after Liang pulled the trigger of his gun in a stairwell of the Louis H. Pink Houses that ricocheted off the wall and struck Gurley. Liang and Landau had been conducting a vertical patrol of the public housing building when Liang fired the fatal shot. Prosecutors later argued that Liang violated his Academy training with regard to proper handling of his service weapon and that this resulted in Gurley’s death. They further argued that neither he nor Landau provided life-saving measures upon discovering a mortally wounded Gurley.
The shooting of Akai Gurley sparked nationwide protests as part of the larger Movement for Black Lives, but also mobilized thousands of Chinese American counter-protesters who rallied to defend Liang after he was indicted on manslaughter charges in the shooting. The controversy inspired a deep conversation on race, police brutality, and anti-blackness within the Asian American community, and many AAPI organizations (including this blog) signed an open letter in support of Black lives following the demonstrations for Liang.
Eventually, Liang was convicted of the crime of second-degree manslaughter for his part in the shooting death of Akai Gurley, but sentenced to a mere 800 hours of community service after his charge was reduced by the presiding judge in his case. His partner, Shaun Landau, escaped a criminal charge, and Liang is currently appealing his conviction. Nonetheless, both were fired from the NYPD, and both were also originally named in the civil suit filed by the Gurley family. In their initial response to the lawsuit, Liang and Landau’s attorneys blamed Akai Gurley for his death, before Liang, the NYCHA, and the City of New York arrived at yesterday morning’s settlement; Landau had been earlier released from the complaint.
According to Liang’s attorney, Liang will be responsible for coming up with the $25,000 he owes to the Gurley family within the next four months. Several crowd-sourced legal defense funds were set up in February for Liang and his family, but it is unclear how much money those funds raised or whether any of it is available to pay the settlement.
Liang is reportedly currently serving his community service sentence at local non-profit organizations, where he is mopping floors and cooking food among other duties.
Read More: New York City, Peter Liang to Pay $4.1 Million Settlement to Family of Akai Gurley (NBC News)