New York City has agreed to pay a $4.1 million settlement in the death of an unarmed man, shot and killed by a police officer in a dark apartment stairwell. Akai Gurley’s family filed a wrongful death suit in the November 2014 shooting. According to New York Daily News, the New York Housing Authority will pay out $400,000 for not repairing a light bulb in the stairwell of the Brooklyn housing project.

The elevator was out of service which prompted Gurley and a friend to take the stairs. Rookie Officer Peter Liang was patrolling the area, when he opened the stairwell door and began firing his gun. Gurley was hit in the chest after the bullet ricocheted in what the department called an “accidental” shooting. Liang, who avoided any jail time will pay $25,000 to the mother of Gurley’s young daughter, Akaila.

Photo: Kevin C. Downs / New York Daily news
Photo: Kevin C. Downs / New York Daily news

Akaila will not have access to the money until she is 18. The NY Daily News reports that the money will be invested in annuities which will total an estimated $10 million over her lifetime.

Liang was convicted of manslaughter which was later reduced to criminally negligent homicide by a Supreme Court Justice. He was eventually sentenced to five years of probation and 800 hours of community service. Liang is no longer employed with NYPD.

Photo: News Day

The wrongful death suit also named Liang’s coworker, Shaun Landau of being negligent and reckless. He was also on patrol with Liang. Gurley’s friend, Melissa Butler proceeded to apply chest compressions to his body as witnesses say the officers bickered over who should call for back up. It was a neighbor who called 911. Landau has also been removed from the force.

Residents had complained for weeks about the poor lighting, malfunctioning elevator and lack of security cameras. The only footage available from the night of Gurley’s death came from the lobby.

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