Justice Department Will Review Ramarley Graham Case

The federal government will intervene in the case against a New York police officer who shot and killed an unarmed Black teenager last year.

Posted: 08/08/2013 10:15 AM EDT

(Photo: Courtesy of CBS News)

The United States Department of Justice has decided to review the case of Ramarley Graham, an unarmed Bronx teenager who was fatally shot by a police officer, to determine if any civil rights laws were violated, federal officials said.

The decision by the federal government to intervene in the case comes a day after a grand jury decided not to re-indict Richard Haste, the New York City police officer who shot and killed the teenager 18 months ago in the Bronx.

“The family is cautiously optimistic about the development,” said Royce Russell, the lawyer for the Graham family said, in an interview Friday with BET.com. “They feel that the justice system has failed them before after believing that the system was going to work for them. They have learned that justice is not blind.”

Russell said the family remained frustrated and disappointed not only by the grand jury’s decision Wednesday, they are also angered by the decision two months ago by a New York State Supreme Court judge who ordered that the manslaughter charges be dropped against Haste.

The judge dropped the charges because of a mistake by an assistant district attorney while addressing the earlier grand jury.

The family responded to the decision of the grand jury by vowing to continue to seek prosecution of Haste and that they would turn to federal remedies. The federal government responded in less than a day.

However, Russell said, the family understands that there is no guarantee that charges will be produced against Haste, even though the Justice Department is reviewing the case.

“People of color have seen this happen before, where the Justice Department has stepped in,” Russell said. “Sometimes they move forward but in the majority of the time they don’t. We won’t be satisfied until we see that Officer Haste is going to be prosecuted.”

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