On February 2, 2012, after NYPD officers unlawfully entered into his home without a warrant, probable cause, or any other legal justification, NYPD officer Richard Haste shot and killed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother. Today marks four years since Ramarley’s death. Ramarley left a mother, father, brother, sister, and grandmother who must mourn his death while they fight for justice for their son, brother, and grandchild.
Ramarley’s story is extraordinary because so many people know his name and what happened to him. But there are so many Ramarleys – Reynaldo Cuevas, Kyam Livingston, Rexford Dasrath, Noel Polanco, to name a few. Their stories are forgotten or never known, because there are so many people regularly having their lives stolen by officers who are paid to protect and serve them.
Meanwhile, Officer Haste is still employed by the NYPD and has reportedly received $25,000 in raises since Ramarley was killed. Though a Bronx grand jury indicted Haste in 2012, a judge dismissed the indictment due to a prosecutorial error by the Bronx District Attorney’s office. After the Bronx District Attorney failed to re-indict Haste in August 2013, Ramarley’s family successfully pressured the DOJ and United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to open an investigation into Ramarley’s murder. The investigation remains open, as Ramarley’s family still awaits justice.
Haste is not alone. Across the US, it is extremely difficult and distressingly rare to charge an officer for brutality. There are a host of reasons, including the “inherent conflict of interest” when district attorneys prosecute the same police forces for incidents of violence that they depend on to help build their cases. As a result, the norm is repeat failures to indict officers for killings and other brutality, coupled with the officers responsible remaining on the police force. On top of this, the NYPD’s internal disciplinary system is notoriously weak. Like many police departments across the U.S., the NYPD consistently fails to meaningfully punish and deter its officers from future incidents of misconduct. When officers are punished, it is rarely in proportion to the misconduct in question.
Ramarley’s family—including his mother, Constance Malcolm, and father, Frank Graham—and thousands of advocates from across New York City, including the Justice Committee, successfully called for attention to his case and his tragic death. Their collective efforts also led to the creation of a Special Prosecutor in New York State for police killings in 2015.
Today, Ramarley’s family is calling on U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to convene a federal grand jury and prosecute all officers responsible for Ramarley's death. Ramarley’s mother has asked for supporters to join her for an all-night vigil in front of the DOJ in New York, starting at 5:30 p.m. You can find more information and spread the word here and by following #RiseUp4Ramarley.