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Ramarley Graham Supporters Demand Justice in March to 47th Precinct

By Jeff Mays | March 23, 2012 7:52am
Ramarley Graham's brother Chinnor Campbell held a sign at a protest in front of the 47th Precinct in the Bronx.
Ramarley Graham's brother Chinnor Campbell held a sign at a protest in front of the 47th Precinct in the Bronx.
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DNAinfo/Jeff Mays

BRONX — Standing in front of more than 200 supporters at the 47th Precinct, Franclot Graham explained how the police shooting death of his son Ramarley Graham had left him listless and depressed.

Graham explained that he hasn't been able to sleep or eat. Most weekends, he shuttles back and forth between church and the cemetery, sometimes more than once.

It's a feeling Graham wouldn't wish on anyone — even the officer who fired the fatal shot that killed his son.

"I said this when I met the commissioner, Ray Kelly. The pain I'm feeling, I don't wish this on Richard Haste. It's too much," said Graham.

The protest Thursday capped the end of a difficult two-week period for Franclot Graham and  Constance Malcolm, Ramarley Graham's mother. They've met with both the Bronx District Attorney office and Kelly.

It also marked the beginning of 18 weekly Thursday protests, they said, one for each year of Ramarley Graham's short life.

The Graham family, their lawyers and hundreds of supporters called for Haste and his supervisors to face charges in relation to Ramarley Graham's Feb. 2 death. They marched about a mile from the home Ramarley Graham shared with his mother and grandmother to the 47 Precinct.

There, family members led the crowd in a chant of "I am Ramarley" interspersed with "No justice, no peace."

"Justice is going to be served. It is a fact," said Kirsten John Foy, president-elect of the Brooklyn chapter of Sharpton's National Action Network. "This city is going to feel the pain our community feels."

Graham was killed after police investigating a drug deal chased him from White Plains Road and East 228th Street to his home at 749 E. 229th St. They believed he had a gun hidden in his waistband.

Officers tried to break through the front door of the building before being granted access. Then they kicked in the front door of the apartment. Haste, 30, confronted Graham in the bathroom where the teen was shot fatally in the chest as his grandmother and young brother looked on.

Police said they found a single bag of marijuana.  After the shooting, Haste and his supervisor, Sgt. Scott Morris, were stripped of their guns and badges. That punishment isn't nearly enough, said protesters.

"What we want is a conviction. Officer Haste must pay for what he did to Ramarley Graham," said Carlton Berkeley, a former police officer and Graham family friend.

Like other protesters, he compared Ramarley Graham's death to those of Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, and most recently, Trayvon Martin.

Jose LaSalle, an organizer of the group Stop Stop-and-Frisk, said the NYPD has a responsibility to insure that officers working in specialized units like the Haste are well-trained.

"They need accountability. We need Richard Haste to be accountable for what he did. He gets to go home to his family every night," said LaSalle.

For Ronell Cohill, 19, the Ramarley Graham case resonates with him because he feels he could have easily been in Graham's situation. Cohill said he has been stopped and frisked in the past.

"I don't feel safe. Not all cops are bad, but there are a few bad apples," said the teen who is considering a career in law enforcement.

Graham family lawyer Royce Russell said the family is pessimistic after their meeting with Kelly earlier this week.

"We were told it takes time for substantial change. In retort, we say time is not on our side," said Russell.

Participants at the protest lit candles in rememberance of Ramarley Graham. And then Ramarley's young brother Chinnor Campbell, spoke over the megaphone.

"I love my brother. I miss him," he said.