Family Mourns Death Of Akai Gurley At Friday Wake

December 5, 2014 | Prachi Gupta

Just ahead of the funeral on Saturday morning, more than 100 friends, family, and elected officials gathered at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Clinton Hill on Friday night for the wake of Akai Gurley.

Gurley, 28, died after NYPD Officer Peter Liang fired his gun in a dark stairwell of the Pink Houses in East New York last month. The bullet, which Commissioner Bill Bratton said was an accidental discharge, hit the unarmed Gurley in the chest. Earlier on Friday, it was reported that instead of calling 9-1-1, Liang texted his union rep, and didn’t respond to emergency dispatchers immediately. Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has announced that a grand jury will convene to consider charging Liang.

Gurley’s mother, Sylvia Palmer, and stepfather, Kevin Palmer, held a press conference hours ahead of the weekend services. “My son was my life. There is nothing in this world [that] can heal my pain and my heartache and I pray to God that I get justice for my son,” said Sylvia. “My son didn’t deserve to die like that.”

With the recent cases of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, in which juries failed to indict officers who shot dead the two unarmed black men, tensions are especially high as the community awaits to see if any meaningful action will be taken against Liang and the NYPD.

ANIMAL attended the wake and spoke to some of Gurley’s friends and family, including Vincent Matto and his domestic partner Kimberly Ballinger.

“Unbelievable,” Matto said of Gurley’s death. “This guy, he did nothing. He’s gone, because [an officer was] nervous.”

(Photos: Bucky Turco/ANIMALNewYork)