Ramarley Graham Family Wants Manslaughter Trial Held in the Bronx
BRONX—The parents of Ramarley Graham want the trial for the city police officer charged with manslaughter for killing the unarmed teen to take place in the borough where he was shot.
"We want this case to be tried in the Bronx," Constance Malcolm, Graham's usually reserved mother, told 200 supporters during an animated speech outside the home she shared with her son Thursday night.
"We want to teach them a lesson — stop abusing our kids. They can't keep killing our kids. They are the future," said Malcolm.
Graham family lawyers Royce Russell and Jeffrey Edmin said they expect Haste to request a change of venue as well as a bench trial. Haste's lawyer Stuart London said Wednesday he had yet to make a decision about making either request.
Malcolm, who in the past hasn't spoken much at the weekly vigils and marches the family and supporters hold for Graham, lashed out at the $50,000 bail set for Haste as too low and critcized police officers who applauded Haste as he left Bronx Supreme Court.
"What I saw happen was a joke," she said.
"The $50,000 bail was a slap in the face. Which human beings kill somebody and applaud it?
"The NYPD is the biggest gang in New York."
Graham's father, Franclot Graham, said that the officers' applause and cheers for Haste was disgraceful.
"To us, that's like killing him all over again," he said.
He said he was encouraged by the support he has gotten from clergy, activists and every day people.
"Ramarley, look at this. People love you and they want to see justice for you," the teen's dad said.
Cops from the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit chased Graham, 18, from White Plains Road and East 228th Street to his home at E. 229th St. on Feb. 2.
The officers, who had been investigating a drug deal, believed that Graham had a gun in his waistband.
Police burst into his apartment where Haste confronted the teen in the bathroom. He fired a single fatal shot to Graham's chest.
London said in court Wednesday that Haste felt "no choice" but to pull the trigger because he thought he was going to be killed.
Haste claimed three officers told him they saw the teen with a gun and Graham allegedly made furtive movements in the hallway, refused to show his hands and even made a move toward his waistband, London said.
No gun was recovered at the scene.
Malcolm called the officers liars.
"We are not lawyers and we are not judges but we know they are lying," said Malcolm.
Neville Mitchell, an attorney who is representing two of Franclot Graham's other sons in a case in Manhattan Supreme Court charging them being part of a Harlem gang that imported and sold guns, criticized police.
Franclot Graham has called that case, which has moved to closing arguments, retribution for a civil suit his family filed against the former commanding officer and others at the 32nd Precinct alleging harrassment.
"Ramarley Graham wasn't some kid in the street. Ramarley Graham had a mother and a father that cared about him," said Mitchell.
Carlton Berkeley, a former New York City police officer and Graham family friend, said he would have liked to see Haste charged with murder, and some of the officer's supervisors hit with charges.
"Haste didn't do this by himself," said Berkely, who believes Haste should have never entered the graham home.
"The supervisors are put there to prevent the officers from making mistakes."
Jose LaSalle of Stop Stop-and-Frisk passed around a petiton at Thursday's protest calling for a special prosecutor.
"It's sad this officer gets to spend time with his family and kids while this family suffers the consequences," said LaSalle.
Other speakers at the rally included Sean Bell's father William Bell, Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York American Civil Liberties Union, and Tamika Mallory, executive director of the National Action Network.