Attorney for Ramarley Graham’s Mother and Supporters Argues in Court for de Blasio Administration to Comply with FOIL by Releasing Files on Teen’s Killing by Officers

Group, forced to file lawsuit to compel compliance with state open records law, demands NYPD release files and fire Officer John McLoughlin and Sergeant Scott Morris

New York, NY – Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham, and her family’s supporters called for Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner O’Neill to fire the officers involved in killing her son after a court hearing in a pending lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed by civil rights attorney Gideon Oliver on behalf of Ms. Malcolm, Communities United for Police Reform, and the Justice Committee, was heard in New York State Supreme Court. It seeks to compel the city’s compliance with the state’s open records law, Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), by ordering the release of NYPD files that continue to be concealed about the 2012 killing of Graham.

“The de Blasio administration has been a disaster on police accountability and transparency, and only serves as a national model for backwards policies that allow police brutality and misconduct to continue,” said Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham. “It’s been over five years since Ramarley was murdered in my home and the de Blasio administration still hasn’t brought all the officers responsible to a departmental trial, held them accountable by terminating their employment, or even released basic information on the misconduct that led to my son’s killing.”

The NYPD has continued to conceal critical information about its officers’ 2012 killing of Ramarley Graham in response to a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. Graham’s family, Communities United for Police Reform and the Justice Committee originally submitted the request in September 2016 for police records and communication related to his killing and its aftermath. They were forced to utilize the state’s open records law because the family had been seeking information from the city on his killing for over five years without adequate response. Graham’s family sent repeated letters and requests to the de Blasio administration (here, here and here) and even hand-delivered them to City Hall, but received no responses from the mayor or police commissioner.

The NYPD has been refusing to fully comply with the official request that can provide the family and public with essential information on Ramarley’s killing and NYPD misconduct, which led to Graham’s family and supporters filing a lawsuit in April 2017 to force the NYPD’s compliance with state law. The NYPD has argued that turning over records would prevent it from conducting fair and impartial disciplinary trials into two officers involved in Graham’s killing, Sergeant Scott Morris and Officer John Mcloughlin. Yet this argument is contradicted by the department’s lack of action to even schedule the departmental trials for these officers more than five years after they were involved in killing Graham. This week it was uncovered that Officer McLoughlin was paid over $24,000 in overtime on top of his $85,000+ salary. The de Blasio administration and NYPD claimed it was going to end such overtime practices after it was discovered last year that officers on modified duty involved in unjust killings were receiving significant levels of overtime pay, including the officers who killed Eric Garner and Ramarley Graham.

“It’s sickening that Officer John McLoughlin, who kicked down the door of our home to kill my son, is still receiving overtime pay even though the mayor and police commissioner made empty promises to end these kind of overtime practices,” continued Malcolm. “No family who has lost a loved one to an unjust police killing should have to wait more than five years to still have no answers and see one of the killers of their teenage child continue to receive taxpayer-funded salary and perks, but that’s the state of the city under Bill de Blasio. It’s time for Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill to fire Officer McLoughlin and Sergeant Scott Morris, and stop hiding the facts surrounding the NYPD’s killing of my son Ramarley.”

The most recent legal filing by Graham’s family and organizations from August can be accessed here:

The New York City Council Progressive Caucus also filed an amicus brief in August urging the Court “to reject the NYPD’s various attempts in this case to radically expand Freedom of Information Law exemptions.” The caucus’ attorneys gave arguments before the court today as well. Their brief argues that the public is entitled to the information requested by the FOIL request, rejecting the overly broad rationales being used by the NYPD to deny the release of information. In arguing the information’s importance to the Progressive Caucus and public, the amicus brief contends that the public interest in police transparency is a “preliminary step to asserting the community’s power to check police misconduct and abuse.” The brief also argues that [t]he “NYPD’s adherence to principles of nondisclosure and secrecy erodes the public’s trust in the NYPD as critical to public safety.”

The Progressive Caucus brief goes on to state that: “The Progressive Caucus is concerned that the refusal to disclose critical documents stymies elected officials’ ability to encourage concrete changes to disciplinary systems, training and tactical protocols, and other policies…that may perpetuate police misconduct and abuses.”

The amicus brief filing by the Progressive Caucus can be accessed here:

In 2012, unarmed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was shot and killed in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother by NYPD Officer Richard Haste. Haste and several other NYPD officers, including Sergeant Scott Morris and Officer John McLoughlin, 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 more than five years, all of the officers responsible for killing Ramarley, abusing his family and related misconduct have not been identified or held accountable by the de Blasio administration’s NYPD. Haste was allowed to resign from the NYPD in March, after accruing tens of thousands of dollars in increased earnings since killing Ramarley – he received over $30,000 more in 2016 than he did in the year he shot Ramarley (received over $94,000 in pay in 2016).

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. Officer John McLoughlin kicked down the door to the family’s apartment, leading to Haste shooting and killing Ramarley. Sergeant Scott Morris was the ranking officer on the scene, and allowed the unlawful entry that precipitated Ramarley’s killing. There was extensive misconduct by other NYPD employees in the aftermath of Graham’s killing, but the city has refused to release any information about the extent of activities and officers involved.

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.

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Topics: Ramarley Graham