Family of Man Shot by NYC Cop Warn Al Sharpton to Stay Away

Family of Man Shot by NYC Cop Warn Al Sharpton to Stay Away

The family of New Yorker Akai Gurley has a warning for MSNBC host Al Sharpton: stay away.

The 28-year-old African-American was shot on Nov. 20 by New York City Police Officer Peter Liang in the stairwell of a public housing complex in Brooklyn. Liang has testified that the shooting was an accidental discharge that caught the young man in the chest.

Gurley’s mother, Sylvia Palmer, called on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to launch a full investigation into the incident that took her son.

“My son’s heart was taken away so innocently. He did nothing wrong,” Palmer said. “Nothing in this world will heal my pain and heartache.”

But Palmer also had a warning for at least one person looking to become involved in the family’s time of grief.

MSNBC’s Al Sharpton had planned to show up to Mr. Gurley’s funeral, but Palmer and the victim’s other family members had warned Sharpton to keep his “circus” away from them.

The family criticized Sharpton for trying to elbow his way into their time of grief. 

“It’s been a nightmare,” the vicim’s aunt, Hertencia Petersen, told the New York Post. “He just wants to take credit for this,” she said, even though Sharpton never took the time to contact the family and ask if he was wanted.

The family says that they were shocked when they heard that Sharpton had scheduled himself to give a eulogy for Gurley.

“How can you do a eulogy for someone you don’t even know? It’s heartbreaking,” Peterson said.

Eventually, the cable TV host decided not to attend the service, leaving the family to mourn in their own way.

Gurley’s family also hastened to point out that they got no help from Sharpton with the services or the burial, not monetarily nor in the planning stages.

“There is no piece of the pie for Mr. Sharpton here,” Peterson said. She also said that, in her opinion, when Sharpton shows up to capitalize on a national tragedy, “It’s not pretty, there’s confusion.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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