On Tuesday, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office announced that it will not prosecute the NYPD officer who killed unarmed teen Ramarley Graham, almost four years to the day after he was slain by undercover officers who had chased him into his own apartment in the Bronx. No gun was found—just a small a bag of cannabis, which he was apparently trying to flush down the the toilet.
"After conducting a thorough and independent investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office has determined that there is insufficient evidence to meet the high burden of proof required for a federal criminal civil rights prosecution" of police officer Richard Haste, said a statement from Preet Bharara, the federal prosecutor for New York's Southern District. "Accordingly, this office's investigation into Mr. Graham's death has been closed."
"It's been four years and to wait four years and get this decision, it's like a slap in the face," Graham's mom, Constance Malcolm, told the Daily News.
Graham's dad, Frank Graham, called the decision "frustrating” and "heart-breaking." But he added that "we'll just move onto the next fight—which is firing the officers [involved] immediately."
Graham's family had pinned their hopes on Bharara's office after what the Daily News called "a roller coaster of experiences" with the Bronx district attorney's office. A Bronx grand jury indicted Haste in Graham's death in June 2012, but the judge threw out the charges on a technicality. A second grand jury decided not to indict Haste.
The feds started reviewing Graham's case in August 2013.
Malcolm met with Bharara just before he made his announcement of no charges in the case. Emerging from the building, she told reporters: "This office behind me, Preet Bharara's office, decided not to convene a grand jury in my son's case all because all an officer has to say—we hear it time and time again—is 'I thought, I thought'... My son committed no crime. Still he's dead, while Richard Haste goes on with his family—getting a pay raise, going home to his family. My son is not here."
In poignant comments made to the African American news site The Root last month, Malcolm noted that her other son, who was six at the time, had to receive counseling after Ramarley's death.
"They shot my son in front of my other son and in front of their grandmother," she said. "My baby watched that whole thing. He's damaged for the rest of his life."
Nonetheless, she said she hopes to raise the boy, now 10, not to be fearful of police.
"I don't want him to get angry," she said. "No matter what, I tell him, 'Cops aren't all bad'... I can't condemn the whole force."
(Photo Courtesy of Flickr/The All-Nite Images)