BRONX SUPREME COURT—The defense lawyer for the cop charged with killing 18-year-old Ramarley Graham in his Wakefield home asked Thursday for police records that he said might show why his client thought the unarmed teen had a weapon.
The reports, internal affairs documents and interviews will help determine why Officer Richard Haste, 31, thought Graham "had a weapon or not," said his lawyer Stuart London. Haste pleaded not guilty to two counts of manslaughter for shooting Graham once in the chest in February after Haste's narcotics unit stormed the teen's home home looking for guns and drugs.
Only a small bag of marijuana was recovered.
"Cleary one of the critical issues in this case will be the state of mind of the officer," London said during the hearing before Judge Steven Barrett.
Outside the court house, more than 50 protesters chanted "Richard Haste, you can't hide, we charge you with genocide," "I am Ramarley," and "Together we will fight back."
"The police need to be held accountable," said Lucy Herschel, an Service Employees International Union member. "This was a tragic result of aggressive police tactics."
London said last month that Haste was told repeatedly by fellow officers that Graham had a gun and that once in the home, the teen did not obey commands to show his hands while making furtive movements.
Officers from a special narcotics unit chased Graham from White Plains Road and East 228th Street to his home at 749 E. 229th St. and cops investigating a drug deal believed that Graham had a gun in his waistband.
Graham's family has called his death a murder and have held dozens of vigils and protests.
"Our son is gone and is never coming back," said Graham's father Franclot Graham while standing next to Ramarley's mother, Constance Malcolm, and family attorney, Royce Russell.
"We will do what we can to keep his memory alive and fight for justice," said Graham, who linked his son's death to the controversial police tactic of stop-and-frisk and the recent police shooting death of Reynaldo Cuevas, who was fatally shot by a police officer as he fled armed robbers during a bodega robbery in The Bronx last week.
"What happened to Ramarley Graham was a grave injustice," said Tamika Mallory, executive director of Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network.
Haste, wearing a yellow tie and without the crutches he used during a June court appearance, was silent during the brief hearing. Outside the court he spoke to PBA President Pat Lynch, but not to reporters.
Protesters and lawyers for the family said they expect that Haste's lawyers will want to move the trial out of The Bronx.
"The family will stand strong and the community will stand strong to make sure there are no biases," said Russell. "We know a crime was committed and want to see justice done."
"If they change the venue, we're prepared for that," said Khadijah Shakur, 57, a nurse from the Bronx who is also a member of protest group Ramarley's Call and the New Black Panther Party.
Other protesters said they thought Graham's death was the result of police stop-and-frisk policy.
"There was no reason for cops to be in that house," said Carl Dix a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party. "This was essentially a stop-and-frisk that went bad."