Not to be outdone by the antics of Florida, a grand jury has decided not to charge an NYPD officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager, Ramarley Graham.
Officer Richard Haste pursued and then entered the apartment that Graham shared with his grandmother, confronted, and fatally shot the 18-year-old.
Federal Prosecutors say they will review the case to determine if Graham’s civil rights were violated.
The decision, which was announced on Thursday morning, was met with shock from the Bronx district attorney, Robert T. Johnson, and it prompted calls for a federal civil rights investigation and an independent prosecutor. By late afternoon, the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan said it would review the evidence to “determine whether there were any violations of the federal criminal civil rights laws.”
Nonetheless, the grand jury decision stirred anger and talk of racism among supporters and relatives of the shooting victim, Ramarley Graham, 18. Mr. Graham was black; the officer, Richard Haste, is white.
Narcotics officers had become suspicious of Mr. Graham as he walked through the Wakefield section of the Bronx with two friends. Officer Haste, 31, pursued the teenager, forcing his way into the apartment where Mr. Graham lived with his grandmother. The officer confronted him in the bathroom and shot him, after he mistakenly interpreted a gesture as Mr. Graham reaching for a gun, according to the officer’s account to the grand jury.
The resulting tensions in the community had been largely calmed after Officer Haste was initially indicted last year on manslaughter charges. But a judge dismissed the indictment in May, saying prosecutors had improperly precluded the grand jury from considering Officer Haste’s claim that he believed that Mr. Graham was armed, based on what he had heard fellow officers say over a police radio.
The judge’s ruling allowed prosecutors to seek a new indictment. On Tuesday, Officer Haste told grand jurors that he had repeatedly directed Mr. Graham to “show me your hands,” according to the officer’s lawyer, Stuart London.
Mr. London acknowledged on Thursday that “it was surprising” for a grand jury in the Bronx to vote against prosecuting an officer after such a shooting. “The grand jury should be commended for the courage they had in the face of such a tragedy to keep an open mind and allow my client to tell his side of the story,” he said.
Although the officer will not face state charges for the shooting, he still faces the federal inquiry and a disciplinary review in the Police Department; Mr. Graham’s family is also suing the police
What kind of world do we live in when one of the responses to tragedies is, “Well, at least George Zimmerman was charged with something”?
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