FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MUST TAKE OVER RAMARLEY GRAHAM CASE ON CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION
Haste, shortly before shooting the unarmed Graham to death
Now that a Bronx Judge, Judge Steven Barrett, has dismissed the indictment against Richard Haste, the NYPD officer who followed Ramarley Graham and broke into his home in the Bronx and shot him to death in the bathroom On Feb. 2, 2012, the federal government should take over the case and look into the violation of Graham's civil rights.
It would be a preferable course than to have the Bronx County DA present the case to a Grand Jury again, now that Judge Barrett's action has created doubt about the DA's case.
Without a warrant and the only grounds of "suspicion" being the teenage Graham's race, Haste believed it was justifiable to break into a family home and follow and kill the young man because Haste believed he may have been a drug dealer. If Haste truly believed Graham was armed why would he take the risk of breaking into a home risking an ambush?
In the old South, the U.S. eventually stepped in when it became clear that law enforcement and the courts could not protect the civil rights of African Americans. In New York City, young Black males seem to be similarly victimized when encountered by law enforcement and the courts.
“If it means going back to the grand jury or if we have to ask the federal court to deal with this case; we are going to keep fighting no matter what,” Frank Graham, father of Ramarley Graham said, after the announcement. “Where ever it leads us we will go there. We will never stop until justice is served in this case, until Richard Haste goes to prison for murdering our son. If we start over, we will start stronger!”
Indeed--there is a strong case for the federal government to take action.
It seems that in New York City it's harder for a cop to get away with shooting a dog than killing a young Black man. Cops can shoot young Black males with impunity judging by Judge Barrett's action and other previous incidents.
Such is the lowly regard for the lives of young Black men; effectively demonized and stripped of any humanity. The life of a pet Chihuahua on Fifth Avenue is deemed more valuable.
The list of egregious police killings of young Black males is long: The age demographics that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's NYPD targets for stopping-and-frisking, as testimony and secret recordings by police officers revealed in the ongoing Floyd vs. New York trial.
Those killed to date in recent years include: the 1999 shooting in the Bronx of Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo who was mowed down in a hail of 41 bullets from the police; and, the 2006 killing of Sean Bell, as he left his bachelor party at a Queens club looking forward to a wedding later, when he was riddled by many of the 50 bullets police fired into the car he was in with some friends.
Other shooting deaths by police have been Patrick Dorismond's in 2000; at the time Mayor Rudolph Giuliani infamously derided the dead man as not having been a choirboy -- turns out he in fact was.
In 2004, another unarmed Black teenager, Timothy Jr. Stansbury, was shot and killed by a cop on a Brooklyn rooftop.
In every one of these instances the officers merely have to say they believed the Black man was acting "suspiciously"; after all, the majority population knows what those "suspicious" Black men could do -- even if it turns out they were unarmed and were minding their business.
The most recent killing was that of 16 year old Kimani Gray, also unarmed, killed by a hail of several bullets by officers in Brooklyn. As he lay dying, he reportedly cried "please don't kill me."
The Kimani Gray case will unfold in the weeks and months ahead; but judging by the record and history so far, in previous cases the police officers have escaped justice.
The lives of mature males are also cheap. When officer Bryan Conroy killed Burkina Faso immigrant Ousmane Zongo in 2003, Judge Robert H. Straus convicted him of criminally negligent homicide -- he cleared Conroy second-degree manslaughter. Conroy did not spend a day behind bars; he got five years probation.
The police are there to help keep this city of millions safe and to protect its residents. But it must not come at the cost of viewing the deaths of innocent and unarmed Black males as acceptable collateral damage.