NYPD Cop Indicted
By Tony Best
A police officer, a four year veteran of the New York City Police Department is expected to turn himself today to be arraigned on manslaughter charges arising out of the shooting death of an unarmed Caribbean immigrant in the Bronx in February.
Officer Richard Haste, shot and killed Ramarley Graham, 18, in the bathroom of his apartment in the presence of relatives, including the victim’s grandmother and a grand jury empanelled by prosecutors in the Bronx District Attorney’s office has voted to indict the 30 year old cop on first-and-second degree manslaughter charges. He may face even more charges.
Graham, who had no police arrest record and was never involved in an altercation with cops, was killed after officers in a narcotics unit suspected he was carrying a gun and followed him home. Haste who heard a report on the police radio about a youth with a gun rushed to Graham’s apartment in the Wakefield section of the Bronx, kicked in the door and then fired a single shot that killed the youth. The police never found a gun and claimed afterwards that there was a bag of marijuana in the toilet, a suggestion that he may have been trying to dispose of the small amount of illegal drug.
The fatal shooting triggered massive demonstrations by civil rights groups and civil libertarian organizations led by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
“The killing of Ramarley was an outgrowth of the abusive stop and frisk police policy and it underscores the dangers it poses to our young people,” said the Rev. Sharpton recently. “It shows why the policy must end it. It is a blatant case of racial profiling and anyone in doubt should simply look at the NYPD’s own statistics.” Police data show that in 2011 more than 600,000 young people were stopped and frisked, more than 80 per cent of them were Black and Latino and they didn’t possess any weapons or drugs. Only a handful of them was ever charged with a crime.
George Gresham, President of the 1199 SIEU since 2007, agreed with the prominent national civil rights leader and called on the Mayor to end the policy which he characterized as racist and expressed his fear that his own 22 year old son could soon be a victim of stop and frisk.
“If the policy continues, it wouldn’t be if my son is stopped but when,” Gresham told the Carib News.
The labor leader pointed out that Graham’s death hit home to his union because the youth’s mother, Constance Malcolm, belonged to 1199.
“She is feeling the pain of the loss of her son and it was a death which shouldn’t have occurred,” Gresham added.
Speaking at a rally last week, the grieving mother insisted “my son didn’t have to get killed. It’s hard for me to even talk about. It didn’t have to happen.”
Several senior federal, state and City officials, including Congressional representatives Eliot Engels of the Bronx, Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn, state Senator Eric Adams, Assemblymen Nick Perry and City Councilmember Jumaane Williams have all spoken out against the fatal shooting.
At a rally at City Hall a few days ago, Graham’s relatives and other supporters called the shooting an “execution” and demanded that Haste should be prosecuted.
Patrick Lynch, President of the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, the police officers union, has issued a statement supporting the cop’s claim that he felt his life was in danger when he fired the shot.
“We look forward to a complete review of the facts of the case, which will demonstrate that the police officer believed that he was pursuing an armed felon who bolted rather than be caught with an illegal gun,” Lynch contended. “Several members of the officer’s team had confirmed the presence of a gun, and that constituted a grave danger to the officers and the community. We believe that this officer will be exonerated at trial.”