Justice Department finds insufficient evidence for federal charges in Ramarley Graham case

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016
No federal charges in Ramarley Graham killing
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Tim Fleischer reports on the U.S. Attorney's decision not to bring federal charges in the killing of Ramarley Graham.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced Tuesday that there is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal charges in connection with the fatal shooting of Ramarley Graham.

Ramarley Graham was 18 when he was shot once in the bathroom of his Bronx home by an NYPD officer who had barged inside during a drug investigation. He was killed in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother.

"Four years fighting for justice, and in four years we get this decision," mom Constance Malcolm said. "Not good."

The Justice Department decided to review the case after a grand jury failed to indict Officer Richard Haste on manslaughter charges, but Malcolm now feels she's been dealt another blow.

"I couldn't understand how you could come up with that decision when you are in your home, you're supposed to be safe," she said. "He didn't commit a crime. He wasn't running."

The meeting comes one month after Graham's family and friends held an all-night vigil calling for prosecution. Bharara met with Graham's family and their representatives to inform them of the decision.

"Time and time over again, it seems they always take the cop's word over anybody else," Malcolm said. "So I didn't have any faith in the system. The Bronx DA had already failed me."

Haste said he fired his weapon because he thought he was going to be shot, though no weapons were found in the apartment. He was indicted on manslaughter charges in the summer of 2012, but they were dismissed by a judge who said prosecutors improperly instructed grand jurors to imply they should disregard testimony from officers who radioed Haste in advance to warn him about Graham potentially being armed. A second grand jury declined to re-indict the officer.

Officials said the federal investigation revealed no evidence to refute Haste's testimony that he shot Graham in response to his mistaken belief that the teen was reaching for a gun, and that there are no witness accounts or physical evidence that materially contradict the claim.

After the shooting, Haste was stripped of his badge and gun and assigned to the department's fleet services division, officials said, but an internal disciplinary proceeding against him has been on hold pending the outcome of the federal investigation. In that time, Haste has received raises guaranteed by his union contract. An NYPD spokesman said Tuesday that Haste is currently on "modified assignment."

"He's gratified that the federal government has properly determined that there were no civil rights violations," Haste's attorney, Stuart London, said. "There never were any winners in this case because there was a loss of life."

Graham's family received a $3.9 million settlement from New York City.

Following the U.S. Attorney's announcement, Rev. Al Sharpton, President of the National Action Network, released a statement:

"I am extremely disappointed and can see no logic in law or reason why the U.S. Attorney's office would not proceed with a grand jury in the case of an unarmed young man killed in the bathroom of his own house when there was absolutely no threat to officers. This is a very painful decision for the family and the public at-large. I gave the eulogy at Ramarley Graham's funeral and pledged to stand with the family then, and National Action Network will continue to stand with them now as they pursue justice. I join the family in calling for the immediate termination of these officers from the force; they are a clear and present danger to all citizens."