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New York City to pay $4.1M to family of Akai Gurley, fatally shot by officer

By Allen Cone
New York City to pay $4.1M to family of Akai Gurley, fatally shot by officer
The city of New York reached a wrongful death settlement Monday in the fatal shooting by Officer Peter Liang (above) of Akai Gurley on November 22, 2014. Photo by a katz/Shutterstock

NEW YORK, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- New York City will pay more than $4 million in a wrongful death suit involving an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a police officer in 2014.

The family of Akai Gurley will receive $4.1 million from the city, $400,000 from the city's Housing Authority and $25,000 from former Officer Peter Liang in a settlement announced Monday. The money from Liang will go specifically to Kimberly Ballinger, the mother of Gurley's young daughter Akaila.

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"We believe this is a fair resolution of a tragic matter," a city spokesperson said in a statement.

The money will be put into a fund for Akaila that can't be accessed without court approval until she is 18. It will be invested in annuities worth more than $10 million over her life.

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

The suit charged Liang and his partner Shaun Landau with being negligent and reckless, and the Housing Authority for failing to repair a light bulb in the stairwell of the public housing building in the neighborhood of East New York in Brooklyn, where the fatal shooting occurred Nov. 20, 2014.

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Liang and Landau, both 28, were patrolling the building and entered the dark stairwell one floor above the seventh-floor home of Melissa Butler, a friend Gurley was visiting.

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Butler and Gurley took the stairs to the lobby because the elevator wasn't working.

Liang testified that he accidentally fired one shot that ricocheted off the wall and struck Gurley in the chest.

It was a violation of NYPD procedure for Liang to have his gun out and his finger on the trigger.

In February, a Brooklyn jury convicted Liang of second-degree manslaughter, a felony, but Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun reduced the charge to criminally negligent homicide. Chun sentenced him to five years probation and 800 hours of community service.

The rookie cop, who is appealing the conviction, was fired after the verdict.

A lawsuit by Butler against the city for emotional trauma is pending.

"From retraining our officers to adding body cameras to launching neighborhood policing, our administration is taking significant steps to strengthen the relationship between our officers and the communities they serve," deputy press secretary Monica Klein said in a statement to NBC News.

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