Four years after 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was fatally shot by a NYPD officer in the bathroom of his home, federal prosecutors have decided there is not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges.
Officer Richard Haste, the cop who shot the unarmed teen, was initially indicted in state court for the incident, but the case was thrown out because of an error committed by the prosecution team. The district attorney represented the case, but the second grand jury failed to return an indictment. Now, it seems like the justice Graham’s family has been seeking for the past four years will remain illusive.
Tuesday, Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, met with Graham’s parents to deliver the news that his office would not prosecute Haste. In a written statement, Bharara said there simply was not enough evidence to sustain a charge.
“After conducting a thorough and independent investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has determined that there is insufficient evidence to meet the high burden of proof required for a federal criminal civil rights prosecution,” the statement read. “Accordingly, this Office’s investigation into Mr. Graham’s death has been closed.”
Bharara added: “Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation.”
Graham’s parents called the decision “heartbreaking,” and his mother, Constance Malcolm, said it “doesn’t seem like our kids’ life matters.”
“Time and time again, you see it over and over. This officer walks free, they get a pay raise, they get a promotion and nothing has been done to them,” Malcolm said. “This is sending the wrong message. Even in your own home, you’re not even safe anymore.”
On Feb. 2, 2012 Graham was in his Bronx neighborhood when police mistakenly thought he was carrying a gun. When he retreated to his home and wouldn’t allow police officers inside, they attempted to break the door down.
“The evidence establishes that Officer Haste advanced into the hallway of the apartment with his firearm drawn, where he encountered Mr. Graham. According to Officer Haste, he gave commands to Mr. Graham to the effect of, ‘Police, show me your hands,’” the statement read.
“At this critical moment in time, no other witness present in the apartment, including Mr. Graham’s grandmother, had a view of Mr. Graham.”
Haste claims he thought Graham was reaching for a weapon inside the bathroom, however the teen was unarmed.
Graham’s father called the decision not to charge his son’s killer “frustrating,” but indicated his next step will be see to it that those involved in his son’s death are fired.