By Sharon Gordon
News of the appearance of 31-year-old New York City Police Officer Richard Haste at a Bronx courtroom on Wednesday, June 13 in relation to the shooting death of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was nothing to celebrate, said Franclot Graham, father of the slain teen. “I keep asking why. Why did he kill our son? 18-years-old…18. He did nothing to deserve this.”
“It’s rough on everyone,” he says, “his mother, grandmother, everyone. We don’t rest well and we have no appetite.” Graham says his son was murdered and insists those are the charges that should have come down.
“We are disappointment in this 1st and 2nd degree manslaughter we wanted to see murder charges,” says the distressed father.
“We have no faith in the system,” he offered as he explained that he had expressed this disappointment to District Attorney Johnson.
“I told him that we expect him to do the best job he can in this case for Ramarley,” says Graham before quickly pointing out that, “history has shown that the police always get off,” and recalling other high profile cases involving questionable shootings of unarmed Blacks by New York City Police Officers including Patrick Dorismond, Eleanor Bumpers, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and others.
Franc shakes his head and repeats, “They always get off.” For Ramarley Graham’s family and supporters, the big question is how could only one person be charged? It is alleged that on that fateful afternoon in early February, the police were conducting an investigation into what they call a “persistent drug trade in the Bronx neighbourhood where Ramarley Graham lived”.
Ramarley was identified as a suspect armed with a concealed weapon and police pursued him into his home where police officer Richard Haste and his supervisor Scot Mars found themselves on the second floor.
Police reports are that the suspect was seen to run into the bathroom and Haste was heard shouting, “Show me your hands!” and “Gun! Gun!” before Ramarley Graham was shot in his chest at close range.
“I thought he was going to shoot me so I shot him,” Haste said in a court statement read by his attorney, Stuart London. No weapon was found in a search of the apartment.
The only thing found was a small amount of marijuana recovered from the toilet bowl. “People who could have stopped it didn’t,” says Franclot Graham, “People were acting in concert.”
When asked if he thought the weekly vigils at the home played a role in the indictment of Officer Haste. Franclot Graham says, “Yes, it did. They realised that we weren’t going to stop, we are going to continue.”
He is asking the community to keep Ramarley’s name current. “Support the weekly vigils and come to the courthouse on September 13”. Which is the date for the next scheduled hearing.