By Jennie Matthew, AFP
NEW YORK–The family of an unarmed black father who was fatally shot by a rookie police officer in a New York stairwell spoke out for the first time Friday to demand justice. Akai Gurley, 28, was shot dead by a single bullet on a dimly lit staircase at a Brooklyn apartment building late on Nov. 20. The New York police commissioner said immediately that he had been an innocent. ��He hasn’t done nothing wrong. He’s a good man, good, he loves his family, he loves his baby girl,�� Gurley’s mother Sylvia Palmer told reporters. ��He was going to bring home my granddaughter to visit me for the first time,�� she sobbed. Family representative Kevin Powell linked Gurley’s death to those of other black men killed recently by police in cases that have rekindled a national debate about race, as well as protests across the United States. ��We believe unfortunately … that this feels like a series of modern-day lynchings,�� he told a news conference. Last month, police in Cleveland shot dead a 12-year-old boy who’d been seen with a toy gun, and a grand jury decided not to indict a white officer who killed unarmed teen Michael Brown in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson in August. New York has also seen protests about another grand jury’s decision not to indict a white officer over the chokehold death of an unarmed black father of six in July. Friends and relatives will hold a wake for Gurley at 5:00 pm (2200 GMT) at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, followed by a funeral service on Saturday at 11:00 am. ‘Negligence’
��Keep on praying for the simple reason that God never fails,�� Gurley’s stepfather Kenneth Palmer told a news conference. ��My son was my sunshine and my wife’s sunshine,�� he said. ��He was not only a son, he was a brother, he was a nephew, he was a friend, he was a father,�� he added. The New York Daily News reported Friday that the officer who fired the fatal bullet texted his union representative as Gurley lay dying in the dimly lit staircase late at night on Nov. 20.