Just two days after federal prosecutors said they would not pursue criminal charges against a New York police officer for the shooting death of unarmed black teenager, city lawmakers rallied with the family to call for the officer to be fired.
“Commissioner, it’s time to fire Richard Haste,” Councilman Andy King (D-Bronx) said on the steps of City Hall on Thursday, according to the New York Daily News. King was joined by more than half a dozen politicians, who rallied with Ramarley Graham’s family to rail against the New York Police Department and Commissioner Bill Bratton.
“Now you have the responsibility to do the right thing. The ball is in your court,” added King.
Twenty-eight New York City Council members have signed a letter to Commissioner Bratton that calls for an internal investigation into the “murder” of Graham.
The shooting of Ramarley Graham took place in the Bronx on February 2, 2012. A New York police officer named Richard Haste, who worked in the narcotics unit, suspected Graham of having a gun. He allegedly pursued the teen, breaking down the front of a building, and then breaking through the front of the family’s apartment, before shooting Graham in the bathroom.
Haste alleged that the teen had been reaching for a gun tucked inside his waistband, but none was ever found. Haste was initially charged with manslaughter, but the charges were later dropped due to a prosecutorial technicality. A subsequent grand jury failed to indict him.
“These officers should not be running around with a gun or a badge,” said Constance Malcolm, Graham’s mother, at Thursday’s press conference. “They’re reckless.”
The Daily News reported that Haste was hit with departmental charges in 2012 for discharging a firearm outside department guidelines and could still lose his job.
Graham’s family filed a lawsuit against the city of New York that was settled for $3.9 million in 2015.
In addition, Graham’s family has spent the past four years trying to hold officer Haste accountable for the teen’s death. Regular marches and rallies have been held, appeals to the federally appointed investigator general have been made, and a petition calling for federal charges has been submitted – but to no avail.
Federal prosecutors announced on Tuesday that there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges against Haste. In explaining why charges would not be pursued, US Attorney Preet Bharara said that the investigation had found no evidence to refute Haste’s claim that he shot Graham “in response to his mistaken belief that [the teen] was reaching for a gun.”
This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.