An NYPD officer has been charged with manslaughter for the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, who was killed when police followed him into his home and shot him in the bathroom.
The charges stem from a Feb. 2, 2012, incident when Officer Richard Haste, 30, working undercover with a narcotics unit, pursued Graham into his home after allegedly watching him purchase marijuana on the street. Graham was unarmed when officers shot him as he ran into the bathroom. Reports say marijuana was found in the toilet, leading officers to belive he attempted to flush the drugs.
Graham's grandmother and 6-year-old brother were in the home at the time, and no weapons were ever found in the apartment.
Haste will be the first on-duty officer indicted for a fatal shooting since three New York detectives stood trial for the death of 23-year-old Sean Bell, who was killed outside a club while celebrating the night before his wedding in 2006. Haste is expected to turn himself in for the first- and second-degree manslaughter charges and faces up to 25 years in prison.
The charges come as the NYPD faces scrutiny for its controversial stop-and frisk policy that advocates say amounts to city-sanctioned racial profiling and has led to the harassment and arrest of thousands of Black and Latino men around New York City.
Haste’s father, however, told the New York Times his son shot Graham out of self-defense, and it was not based on race.
“I can tell you without any hesitation, from deep in my heart, that my son did not intend to, or want to, shoot this kid,” Haste said. “Unfortunately my son thought his life was in jeopardy, and he opened fire, and unfortunately this kid got killed.”
An early advocate for justice in Graham’s case, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network issued a statement upon news of the indictment.
"While no one takes any pleasure in a life loss or a police officer being indicted, we always demand that the process of justice be fairly and impartially administered," the statement said. "We will continue to stand with Ramarley Graham's parents during the difficult days ahead."
BET National News - Keep up to date with breaking news stories from around the nation, including headlines from the hip hop and entertainment world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
(Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)