THE BRONX — The Bronx cop who killed unarmed teen Ramarley Graham gave "very emotional, precise and passionate" testimony to the second grand jury in the case — a marked contrast to his earlier testimony, DNAinfo has learned.
A Bronx grand jury voted Wednesday not to indict Officer Richard Haste for manslaughter after he shot and killed Ramarley Graham inside the 18-year-old's Wakefield apartment last year, triggering outrage in the community. The young man's parents called for a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting.
But it was the second go-around with a grand jury that allowed the officer to present a more measured and clearer presentation, said sources who heard both testimonies.
The first grand jury indicted Haste last year, but the charges were tossed by a Supreme Court Justice Steven L. Barrett after he determined the jurors had not been properly instructed. Prosecutors told the panel not to consider the fact that Haste was told by fellow officers that Graham had a gun. No gun was recovered.
"The first time he appeared he was very nervous, it was very traumatic, and this time he was better focused in communicating his state of mind that day when he fired his gun and that he had given Graham several opportunities to simply show his hands," the source said.
Haste — the last witness to face the jurors — testified for more than four hours.
"When he was saying he was relying on reports that he had a gun, he struck the right balance between having fear and doing good police work," according to the source.
"He was very emotional, precise and passionate and this panel was different, with a different, more open atmosphere, with the jurors exhibiting attentiveness to him," said the source.
The officer, who is on modified assignment pending the outcome of departmental charges that he violated police guidelines on use of force, was fully prepared to be re-indicted, a source familiar with his testimony said.
"He knows that a life was taken and is sort of shocked he got a fair hearing from The Bronx grand jury," another source said.
The grand jury, which was composed of 12 Black members, six Hispanics and five whites, seemed to take the officer's testimony to heart, another source said.
"He told them he did not wake up that day hoping for this to happen," the source added.
Haste was relieved to hear of the grand jury's decision not to indict him and he considers himself fortunate that the panel understood his explanation of the tragedy, the sourced continued.
"He is not celebrating," the source added.