Community awaits decision in Graham shooting

Ramarley Graham’s mother Constance Malcolm at a rally in 2012 about her son’s death.
Photo Credit by Walter Pofeldt

Both sides in the trial of police officer Richard Haste are now waiting for a decision from Police Commissioner James O’Neill in Haste’s connection to the shooting death of unarmed African American 18-year old, Ramarley Graham in 2012.

Haste’s, who is white, actions in 2012 began a string of events that led to a five-day trial which ended on Monday, January 23 that will decide whether or not Haste can remain on the force.

On February 2, 2012 – Haste, Sergeant Scott Morris and police officer John Mcloughlin pursed Graham into his apartment building at 749 E. 229th Street.

Earlier Graham was spotted leaving a Wakefield bodega where drug activity had been reported.

As the pursuit began Haste and the other two police officers believed Graham was armed and dangerous.

According to Haste’s lawyer, Stuart London, after Mcloughlin kicked in the apartment door, Graham did not comply with Haste’s command to “Show me your hands!”

Instead, he reportedly began cursing at the officer and advancing towards Haste – reaching his hands into his pants – before Haste shot him.

In addition, the officers believed he had previously been trying to flush a bag of marijuana down the toilet of a hallway bathroom.

After the shooting, no gun was recovered.

“Had he listened to ‘show me your hands, show me your hands’ there never would have been a shooting,” said London.

He also said. “This is obviously a tragic case because there is a loss of life.”

London also noted the NYPD’s review of the firearm discharge ruled the shooting as legal.

Haste has been charged with “poor tactical judgement” as the prosecution questioned whether the officers should have entered the apartment or waited for backup.

London said the prosecution is questioning the tactics surrounding the shooting because the actual shooting was already ruled legal.

However, London contests, “Generally if the shooting was good the tactics were good.”

Councilman Andy King attended all five days of the trail in support of Graham’s mother Constance Malcolm.

King was not pleased with the manner in which the officers burst into the apartment.

King said the community has been protesting the shooting for five years but Haste was never convicted of any crime despite a manslaughter indictment in 2012.

Graham’s family, King and many other members of the community await the finding.

Although Judge Rosemarie Maldonado oversaw the trial, she can only give a recommendation to O’Neill since the commissioner will have the last say on Haste’s job status.

In addition, the results of the trial will not be open to the public due to Section 50-A of the state Civil Rights law which prevents the release of a police officers’ disciplinary records.

Currently, Haste has been stripped of his badge and gun and is on desk duty.

Morris and Mcloughlin are also facing disciplinary action.

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchristie@cnglocal.com.

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