|Frank Graham, with bullhorn, and Constance Malcolm, at right, parents of Ramarley Graham, at Feb. 2 rally in Bronx on first anniversary of his killing by New York City cop.|
Graham was shot at close range in the bathroom of his house by New York police officer Richard Haste. Cops forced themselves into the Graham family’s house by breaking down the second-floor back door. They claimed Graham had a gun. But cops came up with no weapon after a 48-hour search of the home.
“I thank you all for coming and I pledge to continue the fight,” Frank Graham, Ramarley’s father, told the rally. “It’s not just about wanting Haste to go to prison. We want all those involved off the streets and out of the police force.”
In June a grand jury decided to indict Haste on first and second degree manslaughter charges. He has been put on administrative duty. Haste is the first New York Police Department cop to face criminal charges while on duty since 2007, when three cops were indicted for the killing of Sean Bell. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years, and has pleaded not guilty. The next hearing is March 26.
“The most important thing for me now is to get a date for the trial,” Constance Malcolm, Ramarley Graham’s mother, said over the phone a couple of days after the rally. “We hope for May. They’ve been stalling and stalling. I think it’s because they’re trying to change the venue. They don’t want the trial to be held here in the Bronx.”
Malcolm added that she is convinced Haste will choose a trial with a judge and not a jury.
Sharing the platform with Malcolm and Frank Graham were four family members of others killed by cops in the New York/New Jersey area: Natasha Pannell, Margarita Rosario, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., and Shirley Williams.
Natasha Pannell’s brother, Phillip Pannell, 16, was fatally shot in the back by Officer Gary Spath in Teaneck, N.J., in 1990. Witnesses say Pannell had his arms up when he was shot. Spath was acquitted of manslaughter in 1992.
Margarita Rosario’s son, Anthony Rosario, 18, and nephew Hilton Vega, 21, were shot a total of 22 times in the back and sides by cops in a Bronx apartment in 1995.
Kenneth Chamberlain’s father, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., 68, was killed by cops in his apartment in White Plains, N.Y., Nov. 19, 2011. A medical alert company asked police to respond after the elder Chamberlain accidentally hit his cardiac alert system. When the cops arrived he insisted he was fine and refused to open the door. Cops forced entry by unhinging the door and shot Chamberlain with a Taser and beanbag gun before Officer Anthony Carelli fatally shot him in the chest with a .40-caliber pistol. On May 3, a grand jury cleared the cops of any wrongdoing.
Shirley Williams is the mother of Malik Williams, 19, who was killed Dec. 19, 2011, by cops in Garfield, N.J. Police shot Williams after he escaped their custody and ran into a garage where cops claim he threatened them with a hammer. In June last year, a grand jury decided not to charge Sgt. Jose Brito and Officer Kenneth Keenan.
Yusef Salaam of the Central Park Five also addressed the rally. The five were Black and Latino teenagers framed up for the 1989 beating and rape of a Caucasian woman in Central Park and imprisoned for periods between six and 13 years.
Three city politicians also spoke: City Comptroller John Liu, one of the contenders in the race for mayor later this year; and City Council members Charles Barron and Andy King.
After the rally outside the house where Graham was killed, participants marched to the 47th Police Precinct, where Haste is assigned.
On Feb. 1 the family filed a lawsuit against Haste, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and other cops. The suit accuses the NYPD of improper training of its officers, covering up facts surrounding Ramarley Graham’s death and disproportionately targeting minority youth through the department’s “stop-and-frisk” practices.
“I know my lawyers filed a lawsuit,” Malcolm said. “But I don’t care much about that. My priority is to get the trial against Haste going.”
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