BRONX — A group of protesters gathered outside of Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson's office Wednesday morning to call for the indictment of the police officer who fatally shot unarmed teen Ramarley Graham inside his home on Feb. 2.
Holding a giant sign with Graham's picture and passing out fliers in the rain, the small group of protesters said that it's taking Johnson's office too long to indict police officer Richard Haste for shooting Graham.
"Why is it taking him so long? It's been over three months," said Carlton Berkeley, a former New York City police officer and Graham family friend.
"The way the community feels, justice delayed is justice denied."
Police from the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit investigating a drug deal chased Graham from White Plains Road and East 228th Street to his home at 749 E. 229th St., believing he had a gun hidden in his waistband, though no weapon was recovered.
Officers burst into Graham's home and confronted him in the bathroom before fatally shooting him in the chest in front of his grandmother and little brother.
Protesters compared Graham's case to that of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Florida teen who was shot and killed by volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. That shooting occurred Feb. 26 and Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder a little over six weeks later on April 11.
"It's been three months today and we don't have any answer," said protester Charmine Henriques. "They are trying to keep it hush hush and water it down. They didn't find a gun."
"When someone kills an officer, they are indicted in three days," said Berkeley.
Haste and his supervisor, Sgt. Scott Morris, were stripped of their guns and badges and placed on desk duty. Johnson has met with Graham's parents, Franclot Graham and Constance Malcolm, and has convened a grand jury to review the shooting.
"The incident is under review," said Melvin Hernandez, a spokesman for the Bronx D.A.'s office. He declined comment about criticism the amount of time the review was taking.
Graham's parents said they were pessimistic after meeting with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. The family has filed a notice that they intend to sue the city for wrongful death.
Graham family attorney Royce Russell has said that indicting Haste is not enough and that only a conviction will suffice.
The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which represents NYPD officers, did not immediately return a call for comment.
Passersby said they felt an indictment should be forthcoming.
"I think its wrong that these officers are still on desk duty and not charged," said Anthony Green who stopped to speak with protesters while walking with his wife Deborah.
"They should be charged for killing that young man in front of his grandmother and brother," said Deborah Green.
"They need to be indicted for murder because they cut a young man's life short."