Ramarley Graham (93648)

Closing arguments wrapped up Monday’s session at lower Manhattan’s One Police Plaza, concluding the weeklong departmental trial of the Caucasian NYPD cop, Richard Haste, who shot and killed an innocent, unarmed Black teenager in his Bronx home on Feb. 2, 2012. The trial’s outcome determines whether Haste keeps his job, or not.

The trial began last Tuesday (Jan. 17), with opening arguments from NYPD attorney Beth Douglas suggesting to an administrative judge that the NYPD fire Haste, 35, for demonstrating “poor judgment” by not following department protocol to defuse the situation which led to Ramarley Graham’s killing.

“He demonstrated a total unfitness to continue as a police officer,” Douglas told the presiding departmental judge. “A high-risk entry, absent an emergency, requires a slow and methodical approach. Guidelines require that officers isolate and contain a subject and call for backup.”

She detailed how the officer failed to follow protocol on persuading suspects to surrender.

Douglas and fellow prosecutor, Nancy Slater, argued that once Graham was inside his building at 749 East 229th St. in the Bronx’s Wakefield section, the pursuit was over. And being that there was no immediate emergency, Haste should have retreated, summoned backup and waited for instructions from a superior. She later noted during cross-examination that Haste never contacted his sergeant.

“The tragic death of Ramarley Graham at the hands of Officer Haste could have, and should have, been avoided,” Douglas stated. “The tactical failure of Officer Haste rests solely on him.”

Prosecutors said Haste should have called for the NYPD’s elite Emergency Services Unit, which handles high-risk encounters.

Hidden surveillance video footage shows Haste and fellow Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit cops kicking in and illegally rushing Graham’s front door after the teen had calmly entered earlier.
“There was no circumstance that would justify the breaking down of that door,” Douglas told the court, also noting that there were “no cries for help, no gunshots.” Therefore, no need to force entry.
Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm, said afterwards that she wants the cop to lose his job.

“My purpose is to make sure Richard Haste is fired,” she said. “This man murdered my son for no reason. I’m not asking for anything special. I want justice.”

Deputy Inspector Gregory Sheehan, overseer of the NYPD’s specialized training center, testified that the cops violated several procedures before Graham’s murder.

“Have you ever seen tactical violations as egregious as the ones [in this case]?” Slater asked.

“No, I have not,” Sheehan responded.

On Wednesday and Thursday, several witnesses testified, including Haste’s partner, John Mcloughlin, and Sgt. Scott Morris, who also face disciplinary charges. The other four cops present during Graham’s murder also testified.

Then Friday, Haste, hired in 2008, was the final witness taking the stand. He attempted to justify his actions, saying he thought the teen was reaching for a gun when he shot him, prompting cries of “Liar!” from Graham’s family and friends, seated in the courtroom. The administrative judge then struck his gavel and called for order.

“Richard Haste had to act in milliseconds,” claimed defense attorney Stuart London. “And he was protecting not only his own members, but people in that home.”

“Richard Haste invented something that happened in that bathroom,” stated one of the NYPD lawyers.

Afterwards Malcolm claimed Haste lied under oath.

“He doesn’t have any remorse, and he doesn’t look like he had any remorse,” she noted. “I can’t see how this man cannot be fired or why he shouldn’t be fired. Richard Haste should not be on the force, and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

One of the trial’s major points was the fact that the cop entered Graham’s home illegally.

“If Mr. Haste would not have went into my house, yes my son would be alive,” Malcolm contended. “He would be alive, but he was so hasty of going into my house.”

No gun was ever found.

“They say supposedly he was flushing a bag of weed,” she stated.

The family was outraged no civilian witnesses were called to testify.

“One [cop] put the gun in my face, one searching my apartment,” said Paulette Minzie, the building’s owner. “The one who put the gun to my face say to me, ‘Why you in here?’”

Haste was placed on desk duty following Graham’s killing. However, the criminal case was dismissed because of a procedural error, and a new grand jury declined to indict. Federal prosecutors also refused to bring charges, claiming insufficient evidence to challenge Haste’s claim that he shot Graham mistakenly believing he was reaching for a gun.

Now Rosemarie Maldonado, the deputy commissioner of trials, who acts as the judge, will review the trial evidence then write a recommendations to police commissioner James O’Neill. Both sides will have a chance to respond before O’Neill makes a final decision on whether or not Haste will be fired from the department. The decision could take up to 90 days.

Graham’s family has settled a wrongful death against the city for $3.9 million.