Ramarley Graham’s Mother Asks Mayor de Blasio Why His Administration / NYPD Continues to Withhold Information from Family on Her Son’s Killing
Family & supporters announce appeal of city’s blanket denial of FOIL records request family was forced to file because of de Blasio lack of response, previewing potential legal battle
Over one month since trial of NYPD Officer Haste ended, de Blasio/NYPD also haven’t provided information on decision or trials for other officers involved in Graham’s killing
New York, NY – The mother of Ramarley Graham, Constance Malcolm, was joined by community supporters to announce their filing an appeal of the de Blasio administration and NYPD’s blanket denial of their FOIL request for records pertaining to the killing of her son. The move could represent the preview of a legal battle against the de Blasio administration into records related to Ramarley Graham’s killing that his family has sought from Mayor de Blasio for several years.
“Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill’s claims of transparency are empty rhetoric -- they continue to refuse to provide my family with basic and critical information about the killing of my son by the NYPD,” said Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham. “Families whose loved ones are killed by the NYPD shouldn’t have to file extensive FOIL requests, as we did, to beg for basic information from the city and then have our requests denied. Yet this is the reality under Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill – it’s shameful and there’s no excuse for it.”
The family and their supporters also renewed their calls for Mayor de Blasio to fire Officer Richard Haste, and begin the trials into Sergeant Scott Morris and Officer John McLoughlin so that they can be fired along with other officers responsible for misconduct in Graham’s killing.
“After more than 5 years since my son Ramarley was killed, this can’t be considered due process as Mayor de Blasio likes to say – it delays accountability and that sends a dangerous message to all NYPD officers and New Yorkers,” continued Malcolm. “It’s been over a month since Richard Haste’s trial ended, and my family still doesn’t have a decision on if Haste will be fired or information on whether or when NYPD trials into Sergeant Scott Morris, Officer John McLoughlin and other officers responsible for killing Ramarley and abusing our family will ever happen. It’s time for de Blasio and O’Neill to release the information, fire Richard Haste, and begin the trials into all the other officers involved, starting with Morris and McLoughlin.”
Graham’s family was forced to utilize the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to require the de Blasio administration to release information and records, because previous attempts seeking the information from Mayor de Blasio had gone unanswered. The family sought information through repeated requests to Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD Commissioner. Ms. Malcolm delivered two letters directly to City Hall making such demands (goo.gl/mzaUXx) and outlining the extent of misconduct (goo.gl/AmIBnj), but the de Blasio administration failed to provide any response or substantive information. The family’s attorney also sent a letter (bit.ly/2hAuaHY), which similarly received no response.
The lack of transparency and accountability has left the family with questions that only continue to grow about the incident and role of an extensive number of NYPD officers and officials. The FOIL seeks records and reports on the activities of NYPD officers and officials leading up to, during and after Ramarley Graham’s killing, among other information.
The original FOIL, filed on September 29, 2016 by civil rights attorney Gideon Oliver on behalf of Graham’s family, Communities United for Police Reform and the Justice Committee can be accessed here: goo.gl/psjasI
The parties’ appeal to the de Blasio administration/NYPD denial can be accessed here: bit.ly/RamarleyFOILappeal
“The NYPD's denial of this FOIL request is the latest example of a pattern of opacity around the killing of Ramarley Graham and police killings and misconduct in general,” said Justice Committee Co-Director Loyda Colon. “There were 12+ officers involved in killing Ramarley, illegally entering his home, threatening and assaulting his mother and grandmother and engaging misconduct suggesting a cover-up. Ramarley's family deserves transparency and answers. So far, the NYPD and de Blasio administration have continually refused to provide them while at the same time shielding the officers involved in the killing and cover-up. The names of all the officers involved must be released to Ramarley's family, along with other NYPD information about what occurred on Feb. 2, 2012. For the sake of community safety, Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O'Neill must ensure Richard Haste and all other officers involved are fired.”
Gideon Oliver, the civil rights attorney who filed the initial request and the appeal on behalf of the family and supporters stated: “Through the NYPD's recent, blanket denial of the comprehensive FOIL request submitted in September of 2016 – in which the Department says that releasing even a single page of the records or information sought would interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings – Commissioner O’Neill has delivered an obnoxious slap in the face not only to Ramarley Graham’s family and the communities supporting them, but also to basic transparency principles. We stand ready to answer that offense in court if the Department does not provide a comprehensive response within the required ten business days.”
The appeal comes over one month after the NYPD trial into Officer Richard Haste, who shot and killed Ramarley within the family’s home, ended. The NYPD has offered no information on the decision resulting from that trial and whether Haste will be fired. The department has also not scheduled trials for two other officers facing charges in the killing of Graham – Sergeant Scott Morris and Officer John McLoughlin – or released information on other officers involved in related misconduct.
Councilwoman Rosie Mendez stated: “Five years ago, police officers shot and killed Ramarley Graham after kicking open the door to his home without a warrant. Five years later, we are still waiting for answers and now the NYPD has denied the FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request filed by his mother Constance Malcolm to obtain some answers. The NYPD cannot continue to talk about improving community relations while it continues to hold back information about a questionable forced entry where a young man was killed in his home.”
The unarmed 18-year-old Graham was shot and killed in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother by Haste on February 2, 2012. Haste and several other NYPD officers busted into the family's Bronx home without a warrant, killed Ramarley, and engaged in misconduct and abuses of his family and other civilians. Yet after five years – and an entire year after the Justice Department closed its investigation – none of the officers responsible for killing Ramarley and abusing his family have been held accountable by the de Blasio administration’s NYPD. Haste remains a police officer and has received tens of thousands of dollars in increased earnings since killing Ramarley – he made over $30,000 more in 2016 than he did in the year he shot Ramarley (received over $94,000 in pay in 2016).
Despite engaging in extensive misconduct, Haste only faced a narrow charge for violating tactical procedure by entering the family’s home at a NYPD departmental trial that ended Monday, January 23. He faced no charge for shooting and killing the unarmed Graham or for his abuse of Ramarley’s grandmother. Mayor de Blasio has claimed that his administration has kept the family informed, but the family disputes such assertions and has not received answers to basic questions. The New York City Council’s Black, Latino & Asian Caucus criticized Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner O’Neill for the handling of the investigation and disciplinary process related to Graham’s killing.
There were multiple officers involved in the unlawful entry to the family’s home, threatening, assaulting and mistreating Ramarley’s family members after the killing, unlawfully leaking information unauthorized for public release, and disseminating false information about the incident. Haste was among multiple officers who engaged in unlawful entry of the family’s home and other misconduct – he shoved and threatened to shoot Ramarley’s grandmother at gunpoint after he shot and killed her grandson.
The de Blasio administration’s decision to reinterpret state law 50-a to conceal disciplinary decisions had threatened to leave the Graham family and the 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. However, Deputy Commissioner Kevin Richardson appeared to contradict the NYPD’s new line of reasoning in comments about the Haste trial, implying that its outcome would be made public.
About Communities United for Police Reform
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and policing practices based on cooperation and respect– not discriminatory targeting and harassment.
CPR brings together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those unfairly targeted the most by the NYPD. CPR is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.Topics: Ramarley Graham