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Officer Who Fatally Shot Ramarley Graham to Face NYPD Trial

By  Murray Weiss and Jeff Mays | September 23, 2016 11:57am 

 NYPD Officer Richard Haste during a Bronx court appearance in the death of Ramarley Graham at the Bronx Supreme Court on June 13th, 2012.
NYPD Officer Richard Haste during a Bronx court appearance in the death of Ramarley Graham at the Bronx Supreme Court on June 13th, 2012.
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PHOTO CREDIT AP Pool/Richard Drew

CIVIC CENTER — The officer who fatally shot unarmed Bronx teen Ramarley Graham in 2012 inside his Bronx apartment will face a departmental trial, but no date has been set yet for the inquiry, the NYPD said.

Graham was shot and killed inside a bathroom in his apartment after he was chased by Officer Richard Haste and other officers. He was trying to flush a small amount of marijuana down a toilet when Haste shot him.

Haste, who is currently on modified duty, said he believed Graham, 18, had a gun when he fired, but no weapon was recovered.

The shooting was the tragic conclusion of a chase that began at a nearby bodega, where at least one officer radioed that Graham had weapon.

Haste’s tactics have come under fire from critics who argue that his decision to rush into Graham’s home led to the fatal confrontation just feet away from his grandmother and younger brother.

The officer was indicted by a Bronx grand jury, but it was tossed out because of improper jury instructions from the Bronx District Attorney's office. A second grand jury, before which Haste testified, declined to indict the officer.

Officer Richard Haste, left, arrives at his arraignment at the Bronx Supreme Court on June 13th, 2012. (DNAinfo/Paul Lomax)

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced last March that there was “insufficient evidence” to file federal civil rights charges against Haste.

Since then, Graham's family has called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to fire not only Haste, but the NYPD supervisors and other officers who incorrectly said that Graham had a gun.

The mayor has said Haste has a right to "due process," but that a proceeding would take place following an evaluation by the NYPD.

"We have concluded the evaluation of the internal disciplinary case involving Police Officer Richard Haste and a determination has been‎ made to move forward with a department trial," NYPD officials said in statement.

De Blasio supports the NYPD's decision.

"The mayor has been briefed by the police commissioner and supports his decision to move forward with a department trial," de Blasio spokesman Austin Finan said.

Sources say Haste, a 10-year veteran eligible to retire with a pension, is eager to go to trial to clear his name and hopes to return to full duty.

"Officer Haste appreciates how painful the loss of life is for the family of Ramarley Graham. However, he remains confident that his actions were justified based on his good faith basis that a weapon was observed by his team of fellow officers," Haste's attorney Stuart London said in a statement.

Haste could also face dismissal from the force pending the outcome of the trial.

“Haste is entitled to due process and a fair hearing based on the facts of this tragic incident," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. "We will continue to ensure that Haste receives the rights afforded to him under the law.”

Graham's mother, Constance Malcolm, called the news of Haste's trial a "political announcement" that didn't have much to do with "accountability" or justice.

"I’m tired of Mayor de Blasio and others playing politics with the NYPD’s killing of my son. Haste should face a trial on a number of charges and be fired for all of his misconduct, but the NYPD has given no date for the trial, timeline or even list of charges that he's facing," Malcolm said in a statement.

By not holding all the officers involved in the operation that led to Graham's death accountable, the city "allows these killings to continue," added Malcolm.

The trial will take place in a courtroom at Police Headquarters that is open to the public.

But under a recent NYPD decision involving police officer disciplinary records, the final decision on his punishment, which will be made by new Police Commissioner James O'Neill, will likely not be disclosed.