Rev. Al Sharpton had announced that he was going to deliver a eulogy at the wake (and/or funeral) of Akai Gurley, the 28-year-old Brooklyn man who was fatally shot by a rookie police officer in the Pink Houses last month. But apparently several members of Gurley's family want him to butt out of their affairs: "Al Sharpton came in, put his name on the situation, but has not even made one single call to the parents to Akai," Gurley's aunt, Hertenceia Peterson, told TMZ. She added that all he sees "is money and political gain and that he is turning the tragedy into a circus."
Peterson said she was speaking on behalf of Gurley's mother, Sylvia Palmer. "He just wants to take credit for this when he’s never even contacted my sister [Gurley’s mother]," she told the Post. "Who made you the spokesperson of our family? We just want to bury our nephew with dignity and respect."
Sharpton said he was asked to speak by Kimberly Ballinger, Gurley’s domestic partner and mother of his 2-year-old daughter. He told the News that he wouldn't go to either event and blamed the confusion on a "dispute in the family." "I don’t want to get in the middle of it,” he said yesterday. "I didn’t know until today that the mother and the sister and the domestic partner weren’t together."
Ballinger defended Sharpton, who held a press conference after the shooting on behalf of Gurley, before attending the wake on Friday: "Rev. Al Sharpton has been here for us since day one," she said, according to the News ."We want justice. I want to see an indictment."
At a press conference earlier in the day, Gurley's mother addressed the public and press for the first time since the fatal shooting: "There is nothing in this world that can heal my pain and my heartache," Palmer said. "And I pray to God that I get justice for my son." Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson announced late on Friday that there will be a grand jury convened to look into the shooting.
Bk DA Ken Thompson is a very different prosecutor than Staten Island's, says @jamifloyd. He may want an indictment in the Akai Gurley case.
— Brian Lehrer Show (@BrianLehrer) December 6, 2014
This news comes a day after a damning report by the Daily News, which quoted anonymous sources alleging that rookie cop Peter Liang and his partner chose to text their union representative before calling for help for the victim. Those sources also said the officers weren't even sure of what the exact address was for the Pink Houses, where the shooting occurred; and they weren't even supposed to be doing a vertical patrol (and were instructed by their commanding officer to stick to the outsides of the building or the lobby).