Officer in Ramarley Graham Shooting Won’t Face U.S. Charges
A family’s four-year quest to hold a white New York City police officer criminally accountable for the fatal shooting an unarmed black teenager in the bathroom of his Bronx home ended on Tuesday, when federal prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges.
The episode unfolded on the afternoon of Feb. 2, 2012, when officers in a narcotics unit spotted Mr. Graham, 18, on a street in the Wakefield section of the Bronx.
The officers were suspicious of the way Mr. Graham moved his hands and thought he might be armed, according to the statement.
When Mr. Graham walked away, the officers, from the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit of the 47th Precinct, followed him to his family’s home.
“As Mr. Graham opened the front door, an unmarked police vehicle quickly pulled up and stopped near the front of the house,” Mr. Bharara’s statement said. “As Officer Richard Haste and another officer exited the vehicle, Mr. Graham looked in the direction of the officers and then quickly stepped inside the house and closed the front door.”
Officer Haste ran up to the front door and found it locked.
“He then unsuccessfully attempted to kick the door open,” according to the statement.
The officers went to the back of the house and gained access. Officer Haste made his way to the second floor.
“The evidence establishes that Officer Haste advanced into the hallway of the apartment with his firearm drawn, where he encountered Mr. Graham,” Mr. Bharara said.
Officer Haste told investigators that he ordered Mr. Graham to show his hands. Instead, according to his account, the teenager moved into an adjacent bathroom.
“At this critical moment in time, no other witness present in the apartment, including Mr. Graham’s grandmother, had a view of Mr. Graham,” according to the statement. “Officer Haste stated that he believed that Mr. Graham was reaching for the weapon that had been described” in an earlier police radio transmission “and that he fired one round from his weapon in response to a perceived deadly threat.”
It turned out that Mr. Graham was not armed. A bag of marijuana was found in the toilet bowl, but no gun was found at the scene.
The city ultimately agreed to pay the family $3.9 million to settle a wrongful-death suit.
Mr. Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm, who was surrounded by supporters as she stood in front of the United States attorney’s office, called the decision by the federal prosecutor “another slap in the face.”
In the justice system, Ms. Malcolm said, it “doesn’t seem like our kids’ life matters.”
“Time and time again, you see it over and over,” she continued, “this officer walks free, they get a pay raise, they get a promotion and nothing has been done to them. This is sending the wrong message. Even in your own home, you’re not even safe anymore.”
American criminal justice system works like this: you may be killed bacuase you had to hide the bag of marijuana and the killer won’t be sentenced because cops are free to kill. I find it outrageous that cop even entered the house of Graham. All this story is sad and all that happened is so wrong. Improvement of criminal justice system should be the number one issue for our society. People die for nothing.
Constance Graham, mother of Ramarley Graham who was killed by the NYPD in his own home in the Bronx last year listens to speakers at a rally against the appointment of Bill Bratton for a second tenure as police commissioner of the NYPD. Ramarley Graham was 18, unarmed and killed in front of his grandmother and younger brother. Richard Haste, the officer who shot him will not go to trial. Activists and members of the Parents Against Police Brutality, and the October 22nd Coalition are asking that Bratton’s appointment be withdrawn.
Saturday there was a vigil at 2784 Claflin Ave, just 1 block away from my home in my community #Kingsbridge Heights, #Bronx for Anthony Rosario and his cousin Hilton Vega, two Latinos shot in cold blood while face down on the floor by the NYPD in 1995. we were welcomed by Anthony’s mother, Margarita Rosario, a warrior who has been fighting this racist injustice for almost 20 years. also present were Hawa Bah, mother of MUHAMED BAH, a mentally unstable Black man killed in his own home by the NYPD in 2012, Constance Graham, mother of RAMARLEY GRAHAM, a young Black man killed in his own bathroom by the NYPD in 2012, and Iris Baez, mother of ANTHONY BAEZ, a Latino man choked to death by the NYPD in 1994, just a year prior to Rosario and Vega’s murder.
Ms. Rosario treated us like her own children and fed us all in her home, which is decorated with two beautiful murals of Anthony and Hilton and the names of countless victims of racist police violence. we did a brief speakout and then the organization Parents Against Police Brutality led the march around the block chanting NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, NO RACIST POLICE! along the way, Ms. Rosario was adamant about the “need to wake this community up” by making noise and singing the Peace Poets’ viral “I Can’t Breathe” song. after marching and chanting on University Avenue (right past my building where the People Power Movement has been organizing tenants against gentrification and from where two other tenants had joined the vigil), we settled again with hot soup and tea, and watched the documentary about Rosario and Vega’s case called “Justifiable Homicide,” a powerful film which debunks the racist NYPD myth that the murder was justified by a racist criminal justice system and a pro-state grand jury.
upon leaving this vigil, i was inspired by these mothers who have devoted their lives to the struggle against racist police violence. these are our local Assata Shakurs, our Sojourner Truths, our Comandanta Ramonas. they may not be proposing revolution, but if it weren’t for poor and working class women of color warriors like Margarita Rosario and Iris Baez laying a foundation in the late 1990s, the current movement against police brutality wouldn’t be where it’s at now, similar to how the more reformist Civil Rights Movement laid the foundation for the revolutionary Black Power Movement.
i was also excited to finally find an easy way to connect the issue of gentrification in Kingsbridge Heights to police brutality, because they work hand in hand against our people to push us out our communities like many in NYC. Ms. Rosario’s fighting spirit is a beam of hope in this community and nationwide for fundamental social change. i wanna help Ms. Rosario spread her documentary to the youth, students, and tenants by hosting film events at local libraries, community centers, and schools. if you’d like to help us plz contact me. ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!