Feedback
News

New York City, Peter Liang to Pay Over $4 Million Settlement to Family of Akai Gurley

New York City reached a settlement Monday in the wrongful death lawsuit of Akai Gurley, agreeing to pay more than $4 million to the family of the 28-year-old fatally shot by police in a Brooklyn housing project in November 2014.

A New York City Law Department spokesperson told NBC News that the city will pay $4.1 million, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) $400,000, and former New York Police Department Officer Peter Liang $25,000.

“We believe this is a fair resolution of a tragic matter,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Image: Akai Gurley's daughter Akaila
Akai Gurley's daughter Akaila reacts on her mother Kimberly Ballinger's lap as reverend Al Sharpton speaks at the National Action Network in the Harlem borough of New York November 22, 2014. CARLO ALLEGRI / Reuters

The money will be placed in a fund for Gurley's four-year-old daughter, Akaila, which she won't have access to without court approval until she turns 18, according to the Daily News, which quoted Scott Rynecki, the attorney representing Kimberly Ballinger, the mother of Gurley's daughter and Gurley’s domestic partner.

That money will be invested in annuities to provide around $10 million for Akaila over her life, the Daily News reported.

“Peter is deeply sorry and hopes that even though nothing will bring back Mr. Gurley, that this settlement helps his loved ones find closure,” Robert Brown, Liang’s attorney, told NBC News.

RELATED: Peter Liang Won't See Jail Time as Manslaughter Charge Reduced

In response to the settlement, the mayor's office also called Gurley's death a tragedy.

"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.

From left to right: Scott Rynecki, Akai Gurley family attorney; Kimberly Ballinger, Gurley's domestic partner; and Hertencia Petersen, Gurley's aunt. The press conference was held Tuesday outside Brooklyn Supreme Court where NYPD Officer Peter Liang appeared for a hearing. Chris Fuchs / NBC News

Brown said Liang has four months to get together the $25,000 he must pay to Gurley’s family. Shaun Landau, Liang’s former partner who was originally named in the lawsuit, doesn’t have to pay because he was released from the complaint, Brown said.

He added that the Gurley family insisted on Liang’s paying as part of the settlement.

Image: Peter Liang
Police officer Peter Liang reacts as the verdict is read during his trial on charges in the shooting death of Akai Gurley, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 at Brooklyn Supreme court in New York in New York. Mary Altaffer / Pool via AP

A jury convicted Liang in February of second-degree manslaughter and official misconduct for accidentally firing a shot while, with his gun drawn, he began a vertical patrol with his partner on the eighth floor of a darkened stairwell at the Louis H. Pink Houses.

The bullet ricocheted off a wall, striking Gurley who had entered the stairwell with his girlfriend, Melissa Butler, from the floor below. Liang, who said he didn’t feel qualified to administer CPR, stood by as Butler performed the procedure on Gurley, according to testimony.

Ballinger’s wrongful death suit accused NYCHA of failing to maintain the stairwell and lighting at the Pink Houses, which it oversees.

RELATED: Ex-Cop Peter Liang Apologizes to Akai Gurley's Domestic Partner in Meeting

In April, a judge reduced Liang's manslaughter conviction to criminally negligent homicide and sentenced Liang to five years probation and 800 hours of community service. A month later, Liang began serving out his sentence at a non-profit community center in the city, cleaning tables, mopping floors, and preparing meals. Brown said Liang is still completing his community service.

Butler has brought her own civil lawsuit against the city, which was still pending. Brown, who is also representing Liang in that suit, said he filed a motion to dismiss two months ago, joined by the city and NYCHA, and could hear back on a decision as early as this week.

Image: Protesters support Officer Peter Liang outside a Brooklyn courthouse before his sentencing for manslaughter in the killing of Akai Gurley, in New York
Protesters support former New York Police Officer Peter Liang outside a Brooklyn courthouse before his sentencing for manslaughter in the killing of Akai Gurley, in New York April 19, 2016. Joseph Ax / Reuters

The case sparked heated debate within the Asian-American community, with some believing Liang was made a scapegoat to compensate for a lack of indictments of white officers involved in police-related deaths of black men. Others, however, said Liang had to be held accountable for his actions because he took a life.

Both Liang, who apologized to Ballinger for shooting Gurley, and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office have filed separate notice of appeals in the criminal case.

Brown said Liang has up to nine months from April 19, the day Liang was sentenced in Brooklyn State Supreme Court, to file appeal arguments.

Follow NBC Asian America on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Liang's former partner as Sean Landau. His name is Shaun Landau. An earlier version of this story stated that Liang and the Brooklyn District Attorney had filed appeals. They have filed notices of appeal.