It’s been two and a half years since NYPD officers barged into the Bronx home of Ramarley Graham without a warrant, fatally shooting the unarmed teen in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother.
It’s been a little over two years since officers cheered fellow cop Richard Haste after he pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges for killing Graham, as Graham’s parents sobbed.
It’s been a little over a year since a judge tossed out the indictment against Haste because of a technicality, and it's been exactly one year since another grand jurydeclined to indict Haste.
Friday also marks the one-year anniversary of when the Department of Justiceannounced it would investigate Graham’s death. The DOJ has remained silent on the investigation since then, and declined to comment on its status for this story.
And it marks another year that Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm, says her family has gone without justice.
“Richard Haste -- I just want to see him pay the price for what he did to my child,” Malcolm says while sitting by her son’s grave in a video posted to YouTube on Thursday by the Justice Committee, a police reform advocacy group. “Richard Haste is free, working, collecting a paycheck, while I’m here waiting to see if the Department of Justice is going to take the case."
“We are fed up and we are sick and we are tired," Malcolm says. "There are too many mothers out there crying for justice that didn’t get justice.”
She mentions a petition at Color of Change, which already has over 32,000 signatures, that calls on the Justice Department to prosecute Haste. Malcolm, who's also filed a civil suit against the city, plans to deliver the petition to the Justice Department in person on Aug. 20 at noon.
She and five other mothers whose sons were killed by police met with NYPD Inspector General Philip Eure on Wednesday. They asked Eure to investigate the department’s use of force, especially in incidences leading to death.
Malcolm told HuffPost outside the meeting that the past few weeks have been particularly trying for her, as the death of Eric Garner brought back a flood of memories from when her son was killed. Garner died three weeks ago after NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo put him into a chokehold during an arrest on Staten Island for selling untaxed cigarettes. The city medical examiner has ruled Garner’s death a homicide.
Malcolm said she “broke down” while watching the viral video of the chokehold that ended Garner’s life. “I sat there and watched that man cry ‘I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!’ And that officer had a chokehold on him, sticking his head in the concrete without any remorse! What kind of animal could do that?” she said.
She also expressed anger at statements made by the city’s police unions this week. Pat Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, defended the cops involved in Garner’s death at a press conference Wednesday. He denied that the officers used a chokehold, and said the use of force was necessary. He also referred to the medical examiner’s report, which ruled Garner’s death a homicide, as “political” and a “press release.”
“[Lynch] tells us to give police the benefit of the doubt,” Malcolm said. “The cops don’t give us the benefit of the doubt! Automatically we are criminal. My son was in his home! They broke into his home and killed him! They didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt!”
Cops kicked in the door to Graham's apartment on Feb. 2, 2012, and confronted him in a bathroom. Haste -- who later said he heard on a police radio that Graham was armed -- shot Graham once in the chest. No weapon was found, only a small bag of marijuana.
Malcolm worries about her younger son, Chinnor Campbell, who witnessed his older half-brother get killed. She said the boy, now 9, watched the video of Garner’s death.
“He sees it and he goes, ‘Mommy, there they go again. They kill somebody. When are they going to stop? They killed Ramarley for no reason,’” Malcolm said, choking back tears. “I have to sit there and explain it to him. ‘It’s going to be OK, it’s going to be OK.’ But in the back of my head, I don’t think it’s going to be OK, because it keeps happening."
by Christopher Mathias