The domestic partner of Akai Gurley, the unarmed East New York man who was fatally shot in a stairwell by NYPD in November, plans to sue the city for $50 million for his death. The New York Daily News reports that Kimberly Ballinger, whose two-year-old daughter was fathered by Gurley, is taking the “first legal step” towards the lawsuit on Thursday by filing a notice of claim.
Her lawyer Scott Rynecki explains that the death was a result of police negligence:
“There was no justification for this police officer having his gun out of the holster, in his hand and his finger on or near the trigger so this shooting recklessly occurred,” Rynecki said.
“There was no threat of imminent harm by Mr. Gurley or anyone else.”
On November 20, rookie cop Peter Liang and his partner Shaun Landau were performing a vertical patrol of the building in East New York, despite orders to limit indoor checks to lobbies. During the check, Liang’s gun discharged as he opened a door with the same hand. The bullet hit Gurley, who was in the the darkened stairwell between the between the seventh and eighth floors. As Gurley was dying, Liang and his partner then reached out to their union reps, and then were “incommunicado” more than six minutes according to the Daily News. The NYPD called the shooting an accident.
Ballinger also plans to file a notice of claim with the New York City Housing Authority for failing to maintain the lighting in the stairwell of the East New York building. “I want to make sure Akai doesn’t die in vain,” she said.
(Photo: Brian Blakely)