Federal Decision Lends Hope to The Ramarley Graham Case

Police officer Richard Haste, who gunned down unarmed Ramarley Graham by his grandmother’s toilet in the Bronx nearly two years ago, may yet be indicted. U.S. District Court Judge P. Kevin Castel cleared the federal civil suit against him to proceed. Former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the New York Police Department are also named as defendants.

On Feb. 2, 2012, Haste and his partner pursued Martin from the street because they thought he was acting suspiciously. Without calling for back-up, the officers charged after him and onto private property without a search warrant. When the three stood before the toilet, Haste’s partner called out that the kid has a gun, so the Haste shot him down. Oops! Look, in fairness the police were onto something — frightened Graham was  flushing away marijuana when he died– maybe a plastic bag in his shaking hand gleamed like a gun.

This case deserves far more media attention than it has received, particularly by the major print media. However, the fact that this horrific incident has been so under-reported makes it more likely that many in New York have no opinion about the incident and could sit on a jury. The death of this young man is as worthy of nation attention and prolonged discussion as the Trayvon Martin case in Florida in which a black youth was killed by a neighborhood watch coordinator. [Enter “Ramarley Graham” on this blog’s search box to find two previous presentinthecity posts on the death]

A brief history of the policeman’s days in court thus far: Officer Haste pled not guilty to first and second degree manslaughter charges in June, 2012. In May 2013, the case was dismissed on a technicality when State Supreme Court Judge Steven Barrett ruled that the prosecution had not given proper instructions to a grand jury. Last August, a second grand jury decided not to indict, which led Graham’s family to ask the federal government to intervene. In a pending review, the U.S. Attorney’s office is considering whether Graham’s civil rights were violated.

As Jeff Mays of DNA Info reports in detail, Paulet Minzie, the owner of the building where Graham lived, has also filed suit against the police. She alleges that Haste and other officers terrorized and humiliated her and her family members when they banged on her door to gain admittance. Minzie says that she jumped out of the shower and grabbed a towel when she heard the pounding on her door. In the terror of the moment she says  she exposed herself to the officers and in fear urinated on herself.

In a full story on the latest developments, Khouri A. Atkinson of The Amsterdam News reports that Judge Castel asked the parties to consider whether they want the case decided by a mediator. They have until Jan. 14 to decide. The next court hearing for both lawsuits—filed by Graham’s family and Minzie—is Aug. 1.

I hope there will be a full trial with a detailed record. I want to know how Haste and his partner were trained — how did they come to be on our streets with loaded weapons making judgement calls? It is proper that Kelly is a defendant, because police are unlikely to be better, or even worse, than police policies.

I want to know Haste’s background — was he born and raised in New York City or is he a suburbanite come here to give multi-cultured city people what for? Am I far off the mark when the suburbanite police force, roaming this city where they can’t afford to live, make me think of Hessian soldiers hired by the British around 1776 to subdue unruly colonists? I honor the fact that the police are first responders — even though former Mayor Bloomberg did tell an audience at MIT that the police were his own army. Let us hope that the federal courts will help us sort this out.

2 thoughts on “Federal Decision Lends Hope to The Ramarley Graham Case

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