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Loved Ones Say Final Farewell To Akai Gurley, Man Shot Dead By Police

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Friends and family gathered Saturday for the funeral for Akai Gurley, the young father fatally shot by police in a stairwell in East New York last month.

As 1010 WINS' Roger Stern reported, activist Kevin Powell, of BK Nation, delivered a fiery eulogy, saying  the rookie cop who fired the fatal shot should never have been patrolling with his gun drawn and finger on the trigger.

"Today we're here because of how Akai was killed, and it's called racial profiling," Powell said. "This is an embarrassment to the United States of America that one young person after another of color is being killed, you know, there's no justice out there. This is an embarrassment."

Gurley's 2-year-old daughter sat on her mother's lap in front of the casket at Brown Memorial Baptist Church, WCBS 880's Monica Miller reported.

Loved Ones Say Final Farewell To Akai Gurley, Man Shot Dead By Police

On Friday, loved ones solemnly carried Gurley's casket into the church in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, where his wake drew dozens of mourners, CBS2's Weijia Jiang reported.

"It hurts, it hurts," said Kim Ballinger, Gurley's domestic partner and the father of his child. "Not only did I lose someone, my daughter will have to grow up without a dad now. What am I supposed to tell her?"

Gurley, 28, was fatally shot by a rookie police officer on Nov. 20 in a dark public housing stairwell in what police have called a tragic accident.

Gurley's mother and stepfather demanded justice ahead of the memorial service.

"He hasn't done anything wrong. He is a good man. He loved his family, his baby girl," said Gurley's mother, Sylvia Palmer.

"My son was the best son," said Gurley's stepfather, Kenneth Palmer. "My son was my sunshine and my wife's sunshine."

"Let justice be served because he's somebody's son, he's somebody's father, he's somebody's fiance, he's a human being first of all," Gurley's great aunt said.

Loved Ones Say Final Farewell To Akai Gurley, Man Shot Dead By Police

Friends and family are demanding answers, including why rookie officer Peter Liang had his gun drawn as he entered the dark stairwell.

"We feel this officer should be charged with homicide," said family spokesman Kevin Powell.

At the wake, Gurley's former parole officer said she wants to find out if it was indeed an accident, Stern reported.

"I certainly am waiting and would look forward to hearing what the investigation reveals," she said.

In the incident in which Gurley was shot, Liang and his partner, also new to the force, were patrolling the stairwell between the seventh and eighth floors at the Pink Houses on Linden Boulevard in East New York, according to police.

Police said the officers walked down the stairs onto an eighth-floor landing when Gurley and his girlfriend opened a stairwell door one floor down after giving up on waiting for an elevator.

Police said Liang fired apparently by accident, hitting Gurley from a distance of about 10 feet.

Outside the building where Gurley died, a small group gathered in the pouring rain.

"It's hard when people who live in conditions like these see police officers and we do not see them as people who help us but as people who hurt us," activist Kerbie Joseph said.

The Brooklyn district attorney announced a grand jury will consider criminal charges, and promised a full and fair investigation, Jiang reported.

"This one, I believe, if we don't get justice there's going to be an explosion," former city councilman Charles Barron told CBS2's Steve Langford.

But fresh off a grand jury decision not to indict the police officer in the Eric Garner case, many say the judicial process is broken.

"I have no faith and no belief at this point," said Harlem resident Cynthia Howell.

Gurley's funeral began at 11 a.m. He will be laid to rest following the service.

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