Melissa Butler, Akai Gurley’s Girlfriend, Sues NYC in His Death

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Melissa Butler (Anthony Delmundo/NY Daily News)
Melissa Butler (Anthony Delmundo/NY Daily News)

The girlfriend of a man killed by police in a New York housing project has filed a lawsuit against the city of New York.

According to The New York Daily News, Melissa Butler, Akai Gurley’s girlfriend, is demanding $200,000 from the city. She claims the city failed to properly train the officers who did not provide CPR to Gurley after they shot him. Her lawsuit also alleges that New York police’s action caused her injuries and damages.

Attorney Roger Wareham also accused New York police of depriving Butler of her partner, said The New York Post.

According to Wareham, Butler still “suffers a lot from the loss of someone close to her … from just the lack of care or consideration that Liang and his partner showed for Akai.”

Peter Liang, a rookie police officer, was patrolling a Brooklyn housing project in 2014 when his gun accidentally went off. The bullet ricocheted off a wall and killed Gurley. Liang claimed he was afraid during the patrol and had his gun out and finger on the trigger, a violation of department policy. He was startled and accidentally pulled the trigger. Liang was convicted of reckless misconduct and manslaughter on Feb. 11 and faces up to 15 years in jail.

However, the Asian community is upset at Liang’s conviction. They feel he was convicted, while white officers have killed Black men and walked free, according to Yahoo! News. New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo choked Eric Garner to death on camera and was never indicted.

Thousands of Chinese Americans staged a demonstration in Brooklyn to protest Liang’s conviction over the weekend.

“We understand the pain among our African-American brothers and sisters, who have witnessed the killing of one unarmed Black man after another in continuous succession, with no prosecutions against the officers,” said former City Comptroller John Liu, who spoke at the rally which attracted about 10,000 people. “That is a great injustice. So in an incident where an Asian-American officer shoots his gun, not aiming at anybody, shoots it by accident, we were all shocked last Thursday, when the guilty verdict came out. But were we really shocked?”

According to Gothamist, the pro-Liang demonstration was met by counter protesters, who supported the verdict.

Najieb Isaac, a member of Why Accountability, a group focusing on the prosecution of police misconduct, said Liang needed to be held responsible for his actions.

“And if you’re standing for that, you’re standing for the wrong thing. You should be standing against police brutality and murder,” he told pro-Liang demonstrators.

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