Akai Gurley

Akai Gurley

Birth date:

January 1, 1986

Death date:

November 14, 2014

Age at Death:

28

About

Mr. Gurley was born in St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands, then moved to New York City. He lived in nearby Brownsville with his partner, Kimberly Ballinger, her daughter, and their two-year-old daughter, Akaila.

On 11/20/14, Mr. Gurley was getting his hair braided by his girlfriend, Kimberly Ballinger at home. Mr. Gurley and Ms. Ballinger were leaving the building by stairs as the elevator was out of service. The lights were not working, making the stairwell dark. The two entered the 7th floor stairwell one floor below where two police officers were performing a routine patrol of the building. As the officers opened the door to the stairwell, they claim they were startled by a noise and one police officer said the noise caused him to discharge his weapon, with the single bullet ricocheted off the wall and striking Mr. Gurley in the chest. Startled, Mr. Gurley ran down two flights of stairs before realizing he was shot and collapsed on the 5th floor. The officer who shot him was a rookie. No life-saving actions were administered to Mr. Gurley and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Was justice served?

Yes and No. A grand Jury indicted the officer, who faced up to 15 years in prison for second degree manslaughter. The officer pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was convicted, and fired from the NYPD. Later, the Brooklyn Supreme Court reduced his sentence to just five years on probation and 800 hours of community service. No charges were filed against the other officer (failure to render aid). The Gurley family pressed for justice with a lawsuit against the city and was awarded $4.1 million dollars. Additionally, the housing authority paid $400,000 (likely due to a broken elevator and lights) and the shooting officer was ordered to pay $25,000 to Ms. Ballinger. The family had to go through a substantial effort to seek justice.