A grand jury has decided to not reindict a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in a Bronx, N.Y., apartment a year and a half ago.
The decision not to reindict Richard Haste in the shooting death of Ramarley Graham prompted calls for a federal civil rights investigation and an independent prosecutor. The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan said it would review the evidence to “determine whether there were any violations of the federal criminal civil rights laws,” according to The New York Times.
Narcotics officers had reportedly become suspicious of the 18-year-old Graham as he walked through the Wakefield section of the Bronx with two friends. Haste pursued the teen, forcing his way into the apartment where the 18-year-old boy lived with his grandmother. The officer confronted him in the bathroom and shot him after he mistakenly interpreted a gesture as Graham reaching for a gun, according to the officer’s account to the grand jury.
"There was no gun," said Constance Malcolm, Ramarley Graham's mother, according to NY1. "He was not running. He was not selling marijuana. So why is my child dead? And I still can't get an answer."
The officer was initially indicted for manslaughter, but back in May, a judge tossed out that indictment. Haste’s defense team successfully argued that Bronx prosecutors were wrong in telling grand jurors that they could not consider what other officers had told Haste, that they thought the teen had a gun, before Haste ran into the teen's home.
Earlier this week, Haste told grand jurors that he had repeatedly directed Graham to “show me your hands,” according to the officer’s lawyer, Stuart London.
London acknowledged yesterday that “it was surprising” for a grand jury in the Bronx to vote against prosecuting an officer after such a shooting.
“The grand jury should be commended for the courage they had in the face of such a tragedy to keep an open mind and allow my client to tell his side of the story,” the attorney said.
Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said in a statement, "We are surprised and shocked by the Grand Jury's finding of no criminal liability in the death of Ramarley Graham. We are saddened for the family of the deceased young man and still believe that the court's dismissal of the original indictment was overly cautious."
Graham’s family said they will not let this issue die and plan to hold a rally on Saturday.