Ramarley Graham's Parents Fear Repeat of Trayvon Martin 'Injustice'
HARLEM —The parents of Ramarley Graham, an unarmed black teenager shot dead in his home by police last year, say the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin left them disgusted and worried that the officer who shot their son will also not be convicted of a crime.
"Please do not let this happen to Ramarley. Do not let Richard Haste walk free as did Zimmerman," Franclot Graham and Constance Malcolm wrote in an email to supporters Monday, referring to the officer who previously faced manslaughter charges in the February 2012 shooting.
Last month, Supreme Court Justice Steven L. Barrett dismissed the manslaughter indictment against Haste. The Bronx DA made an error when it instructed the grand jury that it did not have to consider the communications other officers gave Haste that Graham had a gun in considering the indictment, Barrett said.
On Feb. 2, 2012, officers from a special narcotics unit chased Graham, 18, from White Plains Road and East 228th Street to his home at 749 E. 229th St. in Wakefield because cops investigating a drug deal believed Graham had a gun in his waistband.
Officers pursued Graham into his home and Haste fatally shot the teen in the bathroom. No weapon was found.
Haste's attorneys have said that multiple communications from fellow officers that Graham had a gun determined Haste's actions that day.
Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson told Malcolm in June that he would re-present the case to a grand jury by mid-summer.
Malcolm and Graham said they believe that process is underway.
"The latest is that we received word that the grand jury has reconvened. We are now hoping and praying that a second indictment is handed down," the email read.
Johnson's office did not respond to a request for comment. Experts and Haste's own attorneys agree it is likely that he will be indicted again.
Graham's parents urged Johnson to "get it right this time. No more mistakes."
Zimmerman, 29, a volunteer neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Fla., was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter Saturday in the death of Martin, 17, during the Feb. 26, 2012 shooting.
Prosecutors claimed Zimmerman shot Martin after following the teen against the commands of a 911 dispatcher because Zimmerman believed Martin was a criminal. Zimmerman's defense team says he shot the unarmed team in self defense after Martin attacked him.
The verdict set off protests around the country. Several members of New York's congressional delegation, including Reps. Charlie Rangel, Jerrold Nadler, Gregory Meeks and Hakeem Jeffries have called on the Justice Department to investigate federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman.
The Justice Department said it is reviewing the case.
Comparisons of Graham's death and Martin's death sprung up immediately after the Florida shooting. Trayvon Martin's father Tracy Martin and Franclot Graham appeared together during a pre-Father's Day rally last year.
In Harlem, protests over the case continued Monday when about 20 people gathered in front of the Harlem State Office Building on 125th Street.
"This is bigger than Trayvon being persecuted," said Maggie Jones, 42, originally from New York, but who now lives in Florida. "What if Zimmerman had killed a white child?"
Yaa Asantewaa, who runs the African International Merchant Agency, said she is organizing a "massive boycott" against products made in Florida.
"Stop buying Florida products. Don't go to Disney no more," said Asantewaa. "If we don't get justice, there will be no peace in America. We're tired of you killing our babies."
Graham's parents say they feel the pain of Martin's parents.
"In the wake of the recent verdict of Zimmerman who coldly murdered Trayvon Martin, my heartfelt condolences goes out to his love[d] ones. The not guilty verdict became the replay of the night Zimmerman took Trayvon's life," they wrote.
They urged their supporters to keep up the pressure.
"Please continue to help us fight the fight," they wrote. "As you see, there is no justice but injustice."
Ben Fractenberg contributed reporting