A family member of 28-year-old Akai Gurley, an unarmed man shot and killed by a rookie police officer in a public housing stairwell, is reportedly speaking out against Al Sharpton and accusing the TV host of exploiting the death.
"Al Sharpton came in, put his name on the situation, but has not even made one single call to the parents to Akai,” Hertenceia Peterson, Gurley's aunt, told TMZ.
Peterson, who claimed to be speaking for Gurley’s mom as well, said Sharpton only appears interested in using the tragedy for “money and political gain.”
The aunt also said Sharpton is not welcome at the funeral or Gurley’s wake on Friday night, even though the activist recently said he plans to deliver a eulogy.
Kimberly Michelle Ballinger, domestic partner of Akai Gurley, center left, who was shot by an NYPD officer is joined by Rev. Al Sharpton, left, Gurley's daughter Akaila Gurley, 2, and and relative Janice Davis-Asiedu at the National Action Network in New York Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. Police have described a rookie officer's shooting of Akai Gurley in a Brooklyn staircase Thursday as an apparent accident. Sharpton called for prosecutors to investigate thoroughly and for police to improve training and procedures. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Sharpton defended himself in a brief interview with TMZ, saying he was asked to comment on the case by Kimberly Ballinger, Gurley’s “domestic partner and mother of his daughter.”
"Sharpton and his team have been supporting us since day one, and we absolutely want him to attend the wake and funeral,” Ballinger reportedly said.
However, Sharpton now says he won't attend the Friday night memorial because of differences among Gurley's relatives, the Associated Press reports.
Police say Gurley and his girlfriend had opened a door into a stairway last month, and a rookie officer patrolling the pitch-dark stairwell fired his gun. Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson has vowed to conduct a "full and fair investigation" into Gurley's death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.