Emotions high as Richard Haste pleads not guilty in Ramarley Graham death
Emotions ran high this morning at the Bronx Criminal Courthouse.
There, Police Officer Richard Haste hobbled in on crutches to his arraignment, where he was charged with manslaughter for allegedly shooting an unarmed teenager.
Haste announced earlier this week he would turn himself in. He pleaded not guilty in the shooting death of Ramarley Graham, 18, shot to death in February.
Graham’s parents broke down in tears during the court hearing.
Father Frank Graham cried as prosecutors detailed how they said Haste “consciously and deliberately pulled the trigger” while facing the teen in his bathroom.
Haste was in an undercover narcotics unit, and officers reportedly said they thought Graham had a gun.
They followed Graham into his Wakefield apartment, and Haste allegedly fired one shot at him in the bathroom, killing him. Graham was reportedly trying to flush a small bag of marijuana down the toilet at the time.
Haste’s bail was set at $50,000, which he paid and then left the courthouse. It is unknown why he was on crutches.
His mother, Constance Malcolm, told reporters outside court, “This has to stop. They can’t keep killing our kids.”
Added Graham, “I keep asking, ‘Why, why why did he kill my son?’” Graham also said that he won’t be able to spend Father’s Day, this Sunday, with his son. “Haste is going home to his family. When we leave here, we’re going to the cemetery,” he said, according to the AP.
Anti-NYPD protesters and supportive fellow officers were all at the courthouse. News reports cited cheering fellow officers along with protesters yelling, “NYPD, KKK, how many kids did you kill today?”
Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams said the anger of protesters outside the court highlights the underlying tension between the police and the minority communities they serve.
“Many of us have been saying that there’s a lot of tension that’s bubbling up,” he told Metro. Minorities feel they are treated differently by cops, he said, like stop-and-frisk tactics that overwhelmingly affect blacks and Latinos.
“When you say that it’s OK to treat communities differently, this is what happens,” he said. “Usually black and Latino men can be treated differently, and that leads to an unarmed man being shot and killed in his bathroom.”
Williams introduced legislation yesterday that would create an independent inspector to provide oversight on how the NYPD operates.
“Communities aren’t seeing this as one young person who’s been killed,” added Christina Greer, political science professor at Fordham University. “There is a definite pattern where you see black boys … where police in many instances shoot first and will ask questions later.”