Fatal police shooting of another innocent, unarmed African-American
Updates on this case listed at the foot of this item
Ramarley Graham was 18 years old when he was shot and killed by New York Police Officer Richard Haste in front of his 6 year old Brother and Grandmother. On the 2 February 2012, the police followed Ramarley into his apartment and radioed to the control room that he had a gun. Haste shot Ramarley in the chest despite there being no struggle or confrontation between the two of them. There was no evidence to suggest that Ramarley was armed and no gun was ever found.
It all began when a street narcotics unit of the NYPD were staking out a bodega in the Bronx. They were acting on a tipoff of a drugs sale outside of the premises. Officers alleged that they saw Ramarley leaving the bodega tugging at a gun that was placed inside his waistband.
The officers alleged that they approached Ramarley and asked him not to move but he started to run towards his apartment. Video evidence was later released that showed Ramarley casually walking into an apartment complex and police officers with guns drawn following shortly afterwards.
The officers were given access to the apartment complex by another tenant after initially trying to break the door down. Ramarley was discovered in the bathroom of his home allegedly trying to flush a small bag of Marijuana down the toilet. Officer Haste shouted at him to show his hands and shouted ‘Gun, Gun’ and then shot him in the chest. Ramarley was later pronounced dead at Montefiore Medical Centre.
Many years ago, the NYPD switched from full-metal-jacket bullets to hollow points. When officer Richard Haste shot Ramarley (who was unarmed, standing in his own bathroom) the hollow-point bullet was lethal. Less than a millisecond after being fired, the Speer Gold Dot 9-mm. round struck Ramarley in the chest and blossomed as it bore a jagged tunnel through his aorta, trachea, and right lung. Seconds later, he was all but dead, face down on the floor.
Ramarley’s funeral was held at the Crawford Memorial United Methodist Church in the Bronx. The civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton demanded an investigation into his death. He stated, “There is no reason for all of us to pretend, even in our sorrows, that we are here under a natural act, this is an unnatural and inexcusable occasion.”
Officer Haste was placed on modified duty after the shooting and 4 months later he was charged with manslaughter to which he pleaded not guilty. Haste was initially indicted in the Bronx on a state manslaughter charge, but a judge dismissed the case after determining that prosecutors had improperly instructed grand jurors. A new grand jury cleared the officer. No other criminal charges were ever brought against Haste which led many to believe that Haste walked free for murdering Ramarley based on a technicality.
Ramarley’s family sought accountability from the other police officers involved in his death. They released internal documents from the New York Police Department detailing the cautioning of two others, Sergeant Scott Morris and Officer John McLoughlin for their involvement in the incident. The documents found all three officers guilty of misconduct. The report stated that ‘all three officers ‘exercised poor tactical judgment’ and additionally reprimanded Morris for ‘failure to supervise’ his officers or train them in proper street narcotics enforcement unit guidelines.
Ramarley’s family cited these documents as proof that they should be fired and held accountable for their actions. Ramarley’s Mother, Constance Malcolm, filed a wrongful death suit against the city of New York. In 2015 the family settled the case for $3.9 million.
The New York Police Department finally brought internal action against Haste in 2017, 5 years after Ramarley’s death. They determined that he had ‘exercised poor tactical judgement leading up to the discharge of his firearm.’ And recommended that he be dismissed – however two days later he handed in his resignation.
Following his resignation, Haste released a statement saying that he would like to talk to Ramarley’s family. With reference to Ramarley’s mother he said; “She’s got every right to be mad, I felt like they deserved to hear what happened”. In response Constance Malcolm released a statement saying; “Richard Haste sat through a trial and lied up there. Now you want to meet with me? That was your opportunity, on that stand. So, no, I won’t meet with him, nothing he could say to me is going to take away that pain.”
Ramarley’s’ family have always maintained that there were 9 officers that were all, to varying degrees, responsible for his death and should have faced criminal and disciplinary action. They felt that Haste should not have been able to resign from his position after being told that it would be terminated.
In response to the public outcry concerning this case Mayor De Blasio stated that the New York Police Department were fundamentally changing their structure and relationship with the community so that no other mother had to endure such pain and loss. He also explained that they were looking into reducing the numbers of stop and searches of African-Americans in the area.
Ramarley’s family continue to fight for Justice for him and other young black African Americans that have been killed by the state authorities.
The Bullet, the Cop, the Boy
Unarmed teen, unlawfully shot by New York Police, lawyer says
10 February 2012
NYPD officers shoot and kill three black men in one week
3 February 2012
8 Facts about the NYPD Killing of Ramarley Graham – PDF