ONE POLICE PLAZA — The police officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager Ramarley Graham five years ago is a poorly trained cowboy who deserves to be fired, prosecutors said during the start of his NYPD trial Tuesday.
Officer Richard Haste shot Graham, 18, in the bathroom of his apartment as he tried to flush a small amount of marijuana down the toilet. Haste believed Graham was reaching for a gun during the 2012 incident, but no weapon was ever recovered.
Whether Haste was wrong to pull the trigger is not at issue in the NYPD trial that is expected to last the week.
A Bronx grand jury and the U.S. Attorney's office declined to prosecute Haste and an NYPD firearms review panel had determined that the shooting fell within department guidelines.
The NYPD trial is to determine whether Haste violated department protocols in the events leading up to the shooting, and whether he should be fired as a result.
Prosecutor Beth Douglas said that Haste's Street Narcotics Unit team was in violation of several NYPD tactical guidelines when it went into the field on Feb. 2, 2012.
Among them: there were only six officers in the group, when there are supposed to be seven; the majority of those officers should have been in uniform, but none of them were; and Haste and his partner, who both charged into Graham's home, did not have special narcotics training or proper supervision.
She added that Haste made several critical mistakes that lead him to the fatal encounter in Graham's apartment and for that he should be fired.
Haste's attorney, Stuart London, said his client is being made into a "scapegoat," and that the list of protocol violations were the fault of the NYPD's poor training and not of Haste.
Officers from Haste's unit testified that they saw Graham with a gun.
"I saw the back of a slide of a gun," Officer Andrew Jarvis testified.
When he was asked if he was sure if he saw a gun on Graham, he replied: "No doubt."
Jarvis said he then radioed other members of the team to say he had seen the gun.
Another officer, Tyrone Horne, also testified that he saw a gun in Graham's waistband. He also said he radioed that information to other officers because, "We didn't want anyone to get hurt."
During a break in the trial, Graham's mother, Constance Malcolm, said she hoped the proceeding would provide some "justice" for her son.
Other officers involved in the fatal shooting, including the sergeant in charge of the unit, are also facing NYPD trial.
On Feb. 2, 2012, Haste and other members from his Special Narcotics Unit team chased Graham from White Plains Road and East 228th Street to his home at 749 E. 229th St. in Wakefield because they believed he had a gun in his waistband.
The officer and his partner burst into Graham's home, where Haste confronted the teen and ordered him twice to show his hands
"F--k you, get the f--k out of my apartment," Graham replied, according to testimony, before entering the bathroom where Haste fatally shot him.
Haste was indicted for manslaughter by a Bronx grand jury in 2012, but a judge dismissed the case then because of improper jury instructions from the district attorney's office.
A second grand jury was convened in August 2013. Haste testified before the grand jury and it did not indict him.
Graham's family then pushed for federal civil rights charges since then because they believed Graham's rights were violated when the officers kicked their way into the apartment.
Graham's family settled a wrongful death suit against the city for $3.9 million in January 2015.