Community Members Show Up to NYPD Court Appearance for Officer Who Killed Ramarley Graham with Message for de Blasio & O’Neill
Graham family and supporters slam de Blasio for disrespecting family, putting them through 5th holiday season without accountability or basic information, and perpetuating failed NYPD discipline
Group calls for de Blasio & O’Neill to release info and take action on 12+ NYPD officers responsible for misconduct related to killing, stop misusing state law 50-a to selectively conceal disciplinary info
Family members of Ramarley Graham and community supporters of the family showed up in significant numbers to a NYPD departmental court appearance for the officer who killed Ramarley Graham (Richard Haste) to demand full accountability from Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner O’Neill. The group demanded that Mayor de Blasio and his administration stop disrespecting the Graham family by failing to promptly hold all officers who engaged in misconduct accountable and respond to basic requests for information about the 12+ officers who engaged in misconduct against the family.
“It’s almost five years since my little brother Ramarley was murdered by the NYPD and my family will spend another holiday season without justice, accountability or even basic information on the NYPD officers who killed my brother,” said Leona Virgo, the sister of Ramarley Graham. “At the same time, Officer Richard Haste and the other NYPD officers who murdered my brother, abused our family, lied about the murder, and covered it up will spend the holidays with their families while they remain on city payroll earning more under Mayor de Blasio than they did before killing Ramarley. Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill are treating my family as if we don't matter and my brother as a political issue – it’s disgusting, disrespectful and painful to our family. It shouldn’t be so hard for us to see accountability for all 12+ officers who were part of misconduct and be treated with respect. Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill need to fire all 12+ officers involved - and they need to do it transparently or else their rhetoric about communities is meaningless and there will be no trust.”
Even as Richard Haste and his attorney were expected to appear in a NYPD departmental courtroom Thursday, it remained unclear what charges Haste faces nearly five years since Graham’s killing. Based on media reports, the only charge Haste faces is one for improper discharge of his weapon – he’s not facing a charge for unlawful entry of the home without cause, threatening to shoot Ramarley’s grandmother after shooting him, or any other NYPD protocols that he reportedly broke. The Graham family has been unable to receive an answer about that or any response from Mayor de Blasio about the charges faced by another officer and sergeant that the NYPD has referred to as facing trials. They have also received no response regarding their requests for the status of the other officers amongst the 12+ who engaged in misconduct before, during and after Ramarley’s killing. They have made such requests in a letter in March 2016, April 2016, and then were forced to file a formal Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request in September.
“It's been almost five years since NYPD officers forced their way into Ramarley Graham's home, killed him in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother, assaulted his family members and engaged in a range of misconduct to cover up their wrong-doing,” said Loyda Colon, Justice Committee Co-Director. “Ramarley's mother and family have been forced to beg for answers. Mayor de Blasio ran on a promise of police accountability and dignity for all New Yorkers, yet he has repeatedly refused to meet with Ramarley's mother and has lied to her about when Haste's departmental trial will begin. Ramarley's family has also heard nothing about disciplinary measures for the 12+ other officers who were involved in the incident. At the same time, Richard Haste and Sgt. Scott Morris have continued to collect city paychecks, which have been bloated by pay increases since Ramarley's death. We are disgusted by the city's inaction, lack of transparency and utter disrespect for Ramarley's family. We demand that Haste and all other officers involved by fired immediately.”
In a letter sent Thursday, the Graham family attorney, Royce Russell, demanded that both Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill provide the family with basic information about the 12+ officers who engaged in misconduct. He called for them to all be fired from the NYPD and referred to the de Blasio administration’s continuation of the status quo in failing to hold officers accountable by pointing to the NYPD giving “a slap on the wrist to Sergeant Eliezer Pabon for almost killing 14-year-old [Bronx resident] Javier Payne.”
The attorney’s letter can be read here: http://bit.ly/2hAuaHY
While most of the attention has focused on NYPD Officer Richard Haste, who shot Ramarley, there were 12+ officers involved in the unlawful entry to the home, threatening, assaulting and mistreating his family members after the killing, unlawfully leaking information about Ramarley’s sealed criminal history, and disseminating false information about the incident. None of the multiple officers engaged in this misconduct related to the killing have been held accountable, with the identities of some being concealed.
The range of police misconduct by 12+ NYPD officers includes:
Several officers unlawfully entered the family’s home (leading to the killing) and none of the multiple officers on the scene intervened to prevent the unlawful entry
Ramarley's grandmother was cursed and threatened with being shot by Officer Haste after he shot her grandson, and was subjected to use of force by other officers in her home
Ramarley’s grandmother was separated from her 6-year-old grandson, taken to the 47th Precinct and interrogated for over 7 hours, where she was intimidated to give statements against her will without access to legal counsel
Officers at the 47th precinct refused her access to family members and her attorney who were present at the Precinct
Officers mistreated and abused Ramarley’s mother and 6-year-old brother after the incident
Officers unlawfully accessed and released sealed records of Ramarley's criminal justice system involvement in violation of state law
“It’s been nearly five years since Ramarley Graham was killed. Time has not subdued the pain and suffering Ramarley’s family endures each day following his death or quiet the community’s calls for justice,” said Council Member Andy L. King. “The Mayor and NYPD must stop dragging their feet and get Richard Haste's departmental trial underway and discipline all other officers involved in the incident. It is our hope that the outcome of the trial, based on the facts, will be termination of Haste's employment with the NYPD.”
Additionally, the de Blasio administration’s decision to reinterpret state law 50-a to conceal disciplinary decisions threatens to leave the Graham family and public at risk of never learning the outcome of the proceedings for Officer Haste or any other officers. The administration reversed the policy of the preceding administrations of both political parties over the past four decades in releasing this rather basic information, claiming state law as an excuse despite previous administrations being subject to the same law and not using it to conceal such information.
“No mother should have to fear that her child would be harmed or killed by those sworn to protect and serve,” said Monifa Bandele of MomsRising.org. “Yet, Black and Brown mothers in New York City live with this fear every day. The fact that 18-year-old Ramarley Graham's murder has gone unanswered for more than four years fuels that fear. We need accountability. We need justice. We stand with Constance Malcolm.”
Unarmed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was killed in his Bronx home after several officers unlawfully entered his family home without a warrant or cause on February 2, 2012. He was shot and killed in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother, with officers claiming they saw him with a gun that never existed. It has been almost five years since Graham was killed and nearly a year since the federal government announced it would close its investigation, yet the de Blasio administration has failed to advance a transparent process of accountability in anything resembling punctuality.