Two and a half years later and after two failed grand juries, the parents of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham may now find some solace, as they were told that the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office has launched a federal civil rights investigation into the death of their unarmed son, who was gunned down in his grandmother’s bathroom because officers thought he had a gun.
The announcement comes just 28 days after Graham’s parents, Constance Malcolm and Franclot Graham, delivered 33,000 petition signatures to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office, urging him to launch a federal investigation. They asked for a response in 30 days.
“We gave them a deadline, and they met the deadline, and we appreciate that. And moving forward, we want to make sure we stay on top of them and keep pushing and keep Ramarley out there and get justice for Ramarley,” said Malcolm.
The U.S. Attorney’s office had no comment about the investigation. They referred to a statement they issued last month after the family delivered the petitions, which read: “There are many reasons that a federal civil rights investigation should be conducted confidentially, including grand jury secrecy rules, as well as prudential and other reasons, including fairness to all the parties involved ... proper investigation must be thorough, fair and independent so that in the end justice is done, and we are absolutely committed to that.”
Graham’s parents and their legal representatives didn’t have much information to share after the meeting. They said Bharara didn’t say whether he will convene a grand jury, nor did he give them a timeline for the investigation.
“This is a long time coming, and we’re confident. We have an understanding there is a team put in place to ensure that Ramarley Graham receives the fair investigation that hopefully would lead to the convening of a grand jury and indictment,” said family attorney Royce Russell. “This led to some credibility. Obviously, we have our eyes and ears open to ensure that Ramarley gets the justice a human being deserves.”
While much of the attention has been on Officer Richard Haste, who killed the teen, Malcolm said, “The other officers who violated his [Ramarley’s] civil rights” should also be charged. We hope going forward they continue the investigation and eventually get a grand jury.”
Graham was killed Feb. 2, 2012, by Haste. According to his account, Graham was “acting suspicious.” Officers chased the teen into his grandmother’s bathroom from the street, where he was fatally shot. Police reported that Graham tried to flush a small bag of marijuana down the toilet and he had a gun in his waistband. No weapon was found. Graham died at a Bronx hospital.
The Bronx district attorney’s office first indicted Haste on manslaughter charges in the summer of 2012. However, a judge dismissed the charges because of “misinformation” given to the juries and a technicality. A second grand jury in August 2013 decided not to re-indict the officer. The not guilty verdict prompted the family to seek federal intervention.
“I appreciate this meeting today with the DOJ,” said Franclot Graham. “From the day they killed my son, I made him a promise that I would continue to fight for justice. I will continue to fight.”