MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT—The father of slain Bronx teen Ramarley Graham said the charges against two of his other sons for being part of a violent Harlem gun gang are "retribution" for a civil lawsuit they filed against police alleging a pattern of harassment.
Hodean and Kadean Graham, both 19, face charges of being part of a violent, gun-toting gang around 129th Street and Lenox Avenue known as the "Goodfellas" that terrorized Central Harlem, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Hodean Graham, known as "Gotti Twin," was charged with attempted murder, assault, weapons possession and conspiracy. His twin brother Kadean, also known as "Gotti Twin," was charged with weapons possession and conspiracy.
According to the charges, the pair were involved in importing weapons from out of state — including a TEC-9 machine pistol and a Chinese SKS military semiautomatic rifle. The weapons were later used in area shootings, prosecutors said.
From 2007 to 2011, the FBI and NYPD allegedly purchased 15 guns from the crew or its associates. Sixteen people were charged in the case.
But the teens' father, Franclot Graham, said he believes his sons are innocent of the charges.
"This is retribution," Franclot Graham said outside of Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin's courtroom, where his sons are on trial.
"I know where it is coming from," he added.
The family filed a civil harassment lawsuit against the NYPD after a July 25, 2010 incident in which they allege that the teens were knocked unconscious, beaten, maced and taunted by officers and the former commander from the 32nd Precinct. A family attorney advised the family to move from Harlem to the Bronx following the incident and the community held a meeting about perceived harassment toward the family.
The suit also claims officers used batons and mace to enter the family's Harlem apartment without a warrant during the incident.
The Manhattan District Attorney's office declined to comment on the ongoing case.
Ramarley Graham, who lived in the Bronx with his grandmother, was shot to death by NYPD Officer Richard Haste in February after he was chased from White Plains Road and East 228th Street to his home at 749 E. 229th St. by police who were investigating a report of a drug deal.
The officers believed they saw a gun in Graham's waistband and tried to break through the front door of the building before breaking through the door of the apartment, confronting Graham in the bathroom and fatally shooting him in the chest. Police say a single bag of marijuana was found in the toilet.
Franclot Graham said he doesn't believe there is a connection between the two cases. Lawyers for the Graham family say they are expected to testify soon before a Bronx grand jury investigating the shooting death.
At the trial, lawyers for the twins, Neville Mitchell and Frank Rothman, repeatedly brought up the civil suit when cross-examining an NYPD officer from the 32nd Precinct who was involved in the arrests.
"By the way, you are being sued by Mr. Graham?" Rothman asked the officer over the objections of prosecutors.
Mitchell and Rothman both questioned the officer about the number of times he "stopped and frisked" the brothers, to which he responded "10 to 12 times." The officer never recovered weapons or drugs during the frisks, he said.
A cooperating witness facing up to 25 years on drug sale and assault charges in Abraham Lincoln Houses where he admitted to being a violent gang member, identified the twin brothers as being members of the 129th Street crew known as "Goodfellas."
"The two right there, in the pink ties," he said of the brothers.
After the witness left the stand and the jury departed Monday, McLaughlin accused an audience member of sending what could be perceived as hostile gang signs to the cooperating witness while he was on the stand.
"I'm telling you to keep your hands away from your face," said McLaughlin, warning the man not to do anything that might cause the judge to order him arrested.
"You had better sit quietly with your hands at your side," said McLaughlin, who has previously challenged members of the Harlem community to step up and stop the shootings and violence in the neighborhood.