The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) condemns the tragic killing of Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by police in the stairwell of his girlfriend’s public housing residence in Brooklyn last night.  Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton have publicly acknowledged that the shooting was unprovoked and that Mr. Gurley was a “total innocent,” as he was merely walking down the stairs with his girlfriend when he was killed.

“The senseless death of Akai Gurley was not just an ‘unfortunate accident’ or a ‘tragic mistake.’  It is, instead, further evidence of a national epidemic of unlawful police killings of unarmed Black men,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of LDF.  “The only way that we can ensure that there are no more Akai Gurleys, Eric Garners, or Michael Browns is by demanding a new vision of policing that centers on trust and cooperation with communities, rather than fear of presumed criminality based on false and inappropriate racial stereotypes.  Communities of color, including those in New York City’s public housing, deserve much better.”

In the wake of the killing of Michael Brown, LDF called upon the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to undertake a comprehensive review of police-involved assaults and killings of unarmed individuals and to ensure that the DOJ grant process provides strong incentives for racial bias training and avoiding the use of force.  It is now clear that these reforms are needed immediately to prevent future tragedies like the death of Akai Gurley.

Click here to see LDF’s letter to the DOJ on introducing law enforcement reforms.


NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is a leading voice in the struggle to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF has been recognized as the nation’s finest civil rights law organization.  Although initially affiliated with the NAACP, LDF has been an entirely separate organization since 1957.