Emotions poured Thursday outside the Bronx District Attorney’s office at a press conference, as Franclot Grahman and Constance Malcolm demanded the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the shooting death of their 18-year old son Ramarley Graham a day after his killer Richard Haste was set free from manslaughter charges.
“The modern day lynching has to stop,” said Malcolm. “Where is Ramarley justice? Where is the justice for others who were victimized before Ramarley?” she questioned. “Why is my child dead?” the grieving mother asked again. “And I still can’t get an answer.”
But for Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Haste had a probable cause when he killed Graham. He said in a statement that the grand jury “courageously came to the right and proper decision” to set Haste free.
“This grand jury recognized that police officer Haste was pursuing what he had every reason to believe was a man with a gun,” Lynch’s statement reads. “He was facing the same imminent danger that all police officers face as we fight to rid our neighborhoods of dangerous, illegal guns.”
Among the more than 100 hundred supporters at the press conference were mayoral hopefuls John Liu and Bill Thompson, Bronx Councilman Andy King and Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams. In a statement, mayoral candidate and New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio urged the D.O.J. to review the case and he called on parents and politicians alike to bring real change to the criminal justice system.
According to the police officer’s account, Graham was “acting suspicious,” when the encounter occurred between him and Haste. Haste chased the teen into his grandmother’s bathroom, as Graham tried to flush a small bag of marijuana down the toilet, reports said. The officers did not have a warrant to be inside the home. Graham’s grandmother and 7-year-old brother were both said to be home at that time when he was killed. According to Haste, Graham had a gun, but weapon was found. He shot Graham in the chest. Graham died at the hospital.
On June 11, 2012, a Bronx grand jury was called to order. Haste was indicted on first and second-degree manslaughter charges. On June 13 at the Bronx Criminal Courthouse, he pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charges and made a $50,000 bond. State Supreme Court Judge Steven Barrett dismissed the manslaughter charges against Haste on a technicality in May 2013, ruling that the prosecution had not given proper instructions to the grand jury.
This action had provided more questions than answers to Graham’s family and supporters, including Graham’s father, who believes there should be a higher office over the District Attorney, because they work too closely with the NYPD. This, he said, is a conflict of interest.
“We need a special prosecutor to work on cases like this. We can’t trust the district attorney’s office, who works so close with the NYPD and then trying to prosecute them,” the emotional father said. “The system will never work if this continues.”
According to published reports, the Justice Department will review the case and see if Haste violated Graham’s civil rights.