In 2012, Ramarley Graham stepped out of a bodega near his mom's apartment in the Bronx with his friends. According to police reports, NYPD officers, who were parked in a police van outside the convenience store, believed that the 18-year-old had a gun because he pulled up his pants as he was walking—so they followed him. Surveillance videos from the street showed that Graham continued walk calmly into his home, where he closed the door and locked it. Seconds later the footage shows an officer named Richard Haste running up behind him, with his gun drawn, kicking down Graham's front door, and illegally entering without a search warrant.
When Haste entered the house, according to reports, he found Graham in the bathroom, allegedly flushing a bag a weed down the toilet. The official police narrative states that Haste saw Graham reaching for his waistband—and presumably a gun—which prompted the officer to fatally shoot him in front of Graham's grandmother, Patricia Hartley, and his six-year-old brother, Chinnor Campbell. When Hartley tried to run to her grandson's side after he was shot, Haste pointed his gun at her and allegedly threatened to shoot her, too.
No gun was ever found on Graham, or in the apartment.
That was five years ago today, and Graham's family is still seeking justice for their loved one's death. A prosecutor called Haste's decision to shoot Graham "neither reasonable nor justifiable," but the family's legal battle to get the City of New York to recognize that fact has been long and fraught. A jury initially indicted Haste for manslaughter in a criminal trial, but the case was dismissed because of a technicality. A new grand jury declined to indict Haste, and federal prosecutors also declined to bring charges.
The family received a $3.9 million settlement, but Graham's mom, Constance Malcolm, is still holding out hope that the police involved will be held responsible—including Haste's supervisor, Scott Morris, and Haste's partner, John McLoughlin. All three are still employed by the NYPD, and Haste and Morris even got a raise following the incident when they were put on "modified duty."
"There's been two different mayors and two different police commissioners since my son was killed, but there has still been no justice. I never thought I'd still be fighting for just basic accountability five years after they killed my son," Malcolm told Broadly in a statement. This, she says, is contradictory to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's public statements regarding the case: that the investigation would be "fair, speedy, and transparent."
"It's time for Mayor de Blasio and [New York Police] Commissioner O'Neill to stop dragging their feet and remove these officers from the NYPD before any other families are forced to go through the same heartache and pain as mine," she said.
The internal NYPD investigation of Haste's conduct—which dragged on for five years, allegedly without any real justification—just concluded last week. Haste was charged in a with "poor tactical judgment"; however, it's still not clear what the conclusions of the investigation are or if Haste will be fired, or even disciplined.
According to Lieutenant John Grimpel, the deputy commissioner public information at the NYPD, New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill has not yet made a decision on whether or not Haste will face disciplinary action. In an interview with Broadly, Grimpel declined to give a timeframe for that decision.
For Graham's mother and the rest of his family, the right decision is painfully clear and urgent. Tonight, Graham's family is holding a rally in New York to demand that there are repercussions for the officers involved in the killing of an unarmed black teenager. They have also started a petition.
"De Blasio and O'Neill must fire Richard Haste, begin the trials against Scott Morris and John McLoughlin to fire them, and hold all the other officers who racially profiled my son and engaged in misconduct accountable," Malcolm said. "Mayor de Blasio must stop playing politics with the life of my son and safety of our communities from police abuses—the only way to do that is with action to hold all officers accountable."