On Ramarley Graham’s 24th birthday, mom sues de Blasio administration’s NYPD

AmNews Staff Reports | 4/13/2017, 11:04 a.m.
Wednesday, April 12, the family of Ramarley Graham and several supporting organizations announced the filing of a lawsuit against the ...

There were multiple officers engaged in misconduct and abuses of Graham’s family and other civilians related to his killing. Misconduct and abuses included the unlawful entry into the family’s home, threatening, assaulting and mistreating Graham’s family members and other civilians after the killing, unlawfully leaking information unauthorized for public release and disseminating false information about the incident. In fact, several documents of the limited ones released by the NYPD in response to the FOIL request are official NYPD reports that include inaccurate accounts of what happened, appearing to indicate attempts to cover-up Graham’s killing. An NYPD “Unusual Occurrence Report” related to the killing described the shooting as preceded by “a struggle” between the officer and Graham. That report seems to be a source of the then-Commissioner Kelly and Paul Browne’s inaccurate claims that there was a struggle between Haste and Graham before the shooting, something they later walked back. The official NYPD report was transmitted to several high-ranking officials including current Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce and Chief of Department Carlos Gomez, who were at the time in positions in the Bronx.

Graham’s family was forced to utilize the Freedom of Information Law to require the de Blasio administration to release information and records because previous attempts to convey the extent of misconduct and seek information had gone unanswered. The family delivered two letters directly to City Hall making such demands (goo.gl/mzaUXx) and outlining the extent of misconduct (goo.gl/AmIBnj), but the de Blasio administration failed to provide any response or substantive information. The family’s attorney also sent a letter (bit.ly/2hAuaHY), which similarly received no response.

The lack of transparency and accountability has left the family with questions that only continue to grow about the incident and role of an extensive number of NYPD officers and officials. The FOIL request seeks records and reports on the activities of NYPD officers and officials leading up to, during and after Graham’s killing, as well as other information.

The original FOIL request, filed Sept. 29, 2016, by Oliver on behalf of Graham’s family, Communities United for Police Reform and the Justice Committee can be accessed here: goo.gl/psjasI.

The parties appealed the NYPD’s denial to the initial request, which can be accessed here: bit.ly/RamarleyFOILappeal. The NYPD released a limited number of documents, hardly a substantive response to the extensive request made by the family and organizations.

The lawsuit comes weeks after the NYPD allowed Richard Haste to resign instead of firing him. The department has not scheduled trials for two other officers facing charges in the killing of Graham or released information on other officers involved in related misconduct.

Council Member Andy King, who supported the family of Graham before becoming a council member and has been at every hearing and court date involving the case, said, “We are very clear on this. We want Sgt. Morris and officer McLoughlin fired. We don’t want them on some kind of paid administrative leave. We don’t want them to have the opportunity to resign. We want them fired. The fact that an unarmed teenager was shot and killed in his home following a series of unjustifiable actions by the officers on the scene calls for these officers to be fired. And, we are demanding that all NYPD files related to this case as well as the Haste trial report be made public. NYPD, show us that you have nothing to hide and immediately release the files.”

Unarmed 18-year-old Graham was shot and killed in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother by Haste more than five years ago. Haste and several other NYPD officers burst into the family’s Bronx home without a warrant, killed Graham and engaged in misconduct and abuses of his family and other civilians. Yet after more than five years, none of the officers responsible for killing Graham and abusing his family have been meaningfully held accountable by the de Blasio administration.

“Just like in the killing of my son, there were multiple officers involved in Ramarley Graham’s killing who have yet to be held accountable, including those who filed false reports about what happened to cover up the truth,” said Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner. “It’s been over five years since Ramarley was killed and he should be enjoying his 24th birthday. Instead, the failure by the de Blasio to ensure accountability for all of the misconduct related to police killings of our children is allowing the injustice to continue.”