Royce Russell, attorney of the Graham family, speaks to the the media during a vigil for Ramarley Graham in March. (Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
The family of Ramarley Graham, a teenager who was shot and killed in New York City, is calling on officials in the Bronx to convene a new grand jury and to press charges again on the police officer who shot the 18-year-old.
The family plans to hold a rally in Harlem on June 27 to highlight the need for action to be taken against the police officer who was once charged with the killing.
A month ago, a New York State Supreme Court judge ordered that the manslaughter charges against Richard Haste be dropped. Acting Justice Steven Barrett said in his ruling that the prosecution failed to give precise instructions to the grand jury that indicted Haste.
The judge further explained that the members of the grand jury were not provided sufficient information that Haste had been told that the teenage Graham might have been carrying a weapon. “With not great pleasure, I’m obliged in this case to dismiss the charges.”
Since that ruling, family members and activists in the Bronx and other parts of New York City have called for Robert Johnson, the Bronx District Attorney, to convene a new grand jury.
“Judge Barrett dismissed the indictment of Haste because of a mistake made by someone in the DA’s office,” said Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham, in a statement.
“This is unacceptable,” she said. “Moving forward, we want the district attorney to properly do his job, without any more mistakes. Justice delayed is justice denied. We want a grand jury reconvened now. Haste should be re-indicted on the same charges as before.”
Others, including elected officials and community groups, have made similar requests.
“This indictment is the first one of a police officer in the killing of a citizen in five years,” said Yul-san Liem, a spokeswoman for the Justice Committee, an organization that seeks to highlight and fight against police violence, in an interview with BET.com.
“This case is important because it’s the first chance in a long time that the public has the opportunity to see whether the system is going to keep police officers accountable in the way it keeps ordinary citizens accountable for killing each other,” she said.
“The question here is: Will they treat cases of police misconduct with the same diligence that they apply to other cases?” Liem said. “Unfortunately, history has shown that there is an unequal application of justice.”
In February 2012, Graham was shot and killed in his bathroom by Haste after the teenager was pursued by Haste and his narcotics unit. The officers were reported to have been monitoring a neighborhood convenience store for drug activity when they say they saw Graham participating in a drug deal.
Police claim that Graham ran once he saw police officers and then refused to put his hands up when commanded to do so. They pursued him to his home and Officer Haste shot Graham while the teenager was allegedly flushing a small amount of marijuana down the toilet.
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