Vigil marks 3rd anniversary of Akai Gurley’s death

Posted: Updated:
EAST NEW YORK -

Friends, relatives and other mourning community members held a candlelight vigil in memory of Akai Gurley Monday night, marking three years since a police officer's stray bullet struck and killed him in an East New York stairwell.

"He had an infectious smile," recalls Hertencia Petersen, Gurley's aunt. "That's the kind of person Akai was. That's what was taken away from our family."

As News 12 has reported, Peter Liang, then a rookie officer, accidentally fired a shot into the darkness in a Pink Houses stairwell. It ricocheted off a wall and fatally struck Gurley.

Liang was convicted of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in February -- then received a sentence of five years on probation in April. He was also fired.

Gurley's family has since called for an end to police violence against black men.

Relatives of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by another police officer, attended the vigil for Gurley in solidarity.

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