NYPD Officer Pleads Not Guilty In Murder Of Unarmed 18-Year-Old

In yet another tale of police brutality, a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed teenager who was trying to flush a bag of marijuana down the toilet in his Bronx apartment has today pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges.

Officer Richard Haste, 30 years old, the first member of the New York Police Department to face manslaughter charges since the 2006 shooting of Sean Bell, turned himself in and was arraigned at a Bronx criminal court on charges of first and second degree manslaughter over the killing of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham four months ago.

Haste, a four-year veteran of the force, was released on $50,000 bail. He faces a maximum of 25 years in prison if convicted.

On February 2, 2012, a team of officers assigned to the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit, a precinct-level plainclothes squad, was watching a bodega suspected of being a drug market when Mr. Graham entered the store. The officers observed Mr. Graham fidgeting with his waistband and spotted what looked like the butt of a gun. This prompted one officer to warn his partners that the teen was armed, according to an account from New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly shortly after the incident.

Police Officer Haste Shot Unarmed Ramarley Graham

The Wall Street Journal describes what happened next:

When the officers identified themselves and ordered Mr. Graham not to move, the commissioner said the teen ran into his family’s nearby home on East 229th Street. The officers pursued, gaining entry to the three-family building after a neighbor let them in.

Guns out, the officers ran to the second floor and broke down the door. They spotted Mr. Graham down a hallway near the back of the apartment and saw the teen duck into the bathroom.

Officer Haste was so convinced Mr. Graham was armed that he yelled “gun, gun” before firing, according to Mr. Kelly’s account.

But Mr. Graham had no weapon. Police found a small bag of marijuana in the toilet. Officer Haste fired once at close range, striking Mr. Graham in the chest. The teen was pronounced dead at Montefiore Medical Center.

Yet Another Senseless Police Murder

Yet another senseless murder, as if police officers have learned nothing from the death of Oscar Grant, or of Kelly Thomas, to name just two recent deaths at the hands of the police.

Haste stood in court flanked by his attorneys and only spoke once to enter his not guilty plea. He left the courthouse to a mix of cheering police officers and angry protesters riled by the killing.

“NYPD, KKK, how many kids did you kill today?” the demonstrators chanted at Haste, who climbed into a waiting black sedan and drove off, reported The New York Daily News, which also wrote that the dead youth’s father, Frank Graham, wept in the courtroom with his wife Constance Malcolm and later broke down outside the courthouse.

Graham’s shooting inflamed an already tense relationship between New York City’s low-income communities of color and the NYPD, and prompted a review of the department’s street narcotics units.

Criticism Of Stop-And-Frisk Policy

The department is facing increasing criticism for its street-level policing practices, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. Critics say its so-called stop-and-frisk policy – which last year resulted in nearly 700,000 encounters between police and citizens – has led to the criminalization of minority youth. As with every year over the past decade, the vast majority of those stopped were African American or Latino and nearly nine out of 10 had committed no crime.

As a result, the Department of Justice announced last week that it is reviewing the controversial policy, following demands by campaigners who say the tactic is unconstitutional and racially discriminatory.

If justice department officials decided to launch a federal investigation or to intervene in lawsuits that are already under way, it would deal a significant blow to a policy that has been championed by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and his police chief Ray Kelly.

And that at least would be a small step forward.

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Photo Credit: Vanissa W. Chan

57 comments

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin3 years ago

Amadou Diallo.

Barb C.
Barb C.4 years ago

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=438037649551531&set=p.438037649551531&type=1&theater#!/CantrellBarb

MEGAN N.
MEGAN N.4 years ago

@ Will
You are absolutely right. White people usually do not protest when a white person gets shot by the police. I believe that there are 2 reasons for that. Most white people are not racist and will do nothing to appear racist so of course we are not going to protest a white guy getting shot even if he was our next door neighbor. White people don't really have the same rights of cultural and community pride as the minority people in this country. We do not do anything that could exclude any person of any race because we are the bad ones in the equation. Of course white people get shot by police too. I see news reports about police standoffs or a guy got shot by police for doing this or that but honestly if the guy didn't want to get shot then he probably shouldn't have been breaking the law. Would you want to have to explain to the minority community why you were angry over a white person getting shot in your town if you weren't out there protesting when something happened in their town or to any minority anywhere? It is not ok for a white person to protest the unfair treatment of other white people or even mention it to anyone because if you do then everyone will see you as a racist and you would be hated by everyone of every color. Plus usually if someone who was white was in the same situation I would have probably just mentioned that if the criminal had any brains in his head then when he heard the cops yelling that he had a gun he probably should have raised h

Past Member
Past Member 4 years ago

Over a petty drug like pot! Sadness for his family & loved ones, no reason for such a tragedy to have taken place. Obviously these cops need to relearn ask questions first, shoot as a last result not the other way around.

Past Member
Past Member 4 years ago

Over a petty drug like pot! Sadness for his family & loved ones, no reason for such a tragedy to have taken place. Obviously these cops need to relearn ask questions first, shoot as a last result not the other way around.

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers4 years ago

Another trigger-happy cop!

Arild Warud
Arild Warud4 years ago

He needs to be found guilty and punished!!!

Will Rogers
Will Rogers4 years ago

Why is it always a black man? Or don't white people go out on the streets to pursue the unjustified killing of their own? Is it only black people protesting against murder? Cops in America don't seem to  like them very much, and white people in general don't seem to mind. I'm truly deeply deeply sorry for the blacks over there, ...even if they try to smoke some grass to take the pressure off, they can be killed. I think if I was them, I'd be depressed in prison or dead. They seem to have very little joy in America. I'm surprised that they're not going berserk on the streets protesting every day!

Will Rogers
Will Rogers4 years ago

Why is it always a black man? Or don't white people go out on the streets to pursue the unjustified killing of their own? Is it only black people protesting against murder? Cops in America don't seem to  like them very much, and white people in general don't seem to mind. I'm truly deeply deeply sorry for the blacks over there, ...even if they try to smoke some grass to take the pressure off, they can be killed. I think if I was them, I'd be depressed in prison or dead. They seem to have very little joy in America. I'm surprised that they're not going berserk on the streets protesting every day!

Sue H.
Sue H.4 years ago

He can plead not guilty all he wants, doesn't change the fact that he shot and killed an unarmed person.