Wake today for Akai Gurley, killed by officer in dark Brooklyn stairwell

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NEW YORK (AP/PIX11) — Family, friends and civil rights leaders will lay to rest this weekend a 28-year-old man who was shot in the chest and killed by a rookie officer in the dark stairwell of a Brooklyn housing development.

The Rev. Al Sharpton plans to deliver the eulogy at the Saturday funeral for Akai Gurley, who was unarmed when he was killed Nov. 21. A wake is scheduled for Friday evening.

Gurley’s funeral comes at the end of a tumultuous week for the city following a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man.

In Gurley's case, a pair of officers part of a “violence reduction overtime detail” were patrolling the Pink Houses, where a recent spike in crime prompted beefed up presence of police officers, Commissioner William Bratton said at the time.

The officers entered a stairwell on the eighth floor to find it nearly pitch black, Bratton said. A rookie officer pulled out his flashlight and gun -- a breech of department protocol -- and started into the stairwell.

That’s when, police said, Gurley and his girlfriend opened a door into the stair a floor below the officers. The officer with his gun drawn fired a single shot, hitting Gurley in the chest.

Bratton initially said the deadly encounter was the result of an "accidental discharge" but emphasized that an investigation is ongoing.

The medical examiner has ruled the death a homicide and Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has called the shooting "deeply troubling," saying the shooting warrants a fair investigation.

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