Pubdate: Wed, 09 Mar 2016
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.
Author: Andrea Noble


The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it would not bring 
federal charges against a New York City Police Department officer who 
fatally shot an unarmed black man inside his apartment in 2012.

The decision drew swift condemnation from community activists, who 
questioned why officers pursued Ramarley Graham, kicked down the door 
to his apartment, and shot him as he retreated into the bathroom 
after officers erroneously suspected he was carrying a firearm.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, 
announced Tuesday that there was "insufficient evidence" to bring 
federal criminal charges against NYPD Officer Richard Haste, who 
fired the single shot that killed Graham.

In his announcement, Mr. Bharara noted that there was no evidence 
that would refute Officer Haste's version of the sequence of events 
that occurred just moments before the shooting. Though Graham's 
grandmother and his 6-year-old brother were in the apartment at the 
time of the shooting, neither saw the shooting, nor was there any 
video recording of the incident.

"At this critical moment in time, no other witness present in the 
apartment, including Mr. Graham's grandmother, had a view of Mr. 
Graham," Mr. Bharara said. "There are no witness accounts or physical 
evidence that materially contradict Officer Haste's statement that 
Mr. Graham appeared to be pulling something from his waistband at the 
time of the shooting."

Narcotics enforcement officers had begun to pursue Graham after he 
was seen leaving a bodega where they were conducting surveillance, 
according to prosecutors. An officer radioed to others that he saw a 
handgun tucked into the waistband of Graham's pants. Officers 
followed Graham to his apartment, and forced entry to the building to 
follow him inside, kicking down the door of the apartment to enter.

Officer Haste, who is white, ordered Graham to show his hands, but 
said that Graham instead moved to an adjacent bathroom. According to 
prosecutors, when the officer reached the bathroom, he said that 
Graham made a movement as if to pull something from his waistband and 
Officer Haste, fearing that Graham was about to pull out a gun, fired 
the fatal round.

No firearm was ultimately found at the scene. Instead, officers found 
a bag of marijuana in the toilet bowl next to where Graham had been standing.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. called the decision not 
present the case to a grand jury "an outrage."

"At a time when the issue of policecommunity relations has been at 
the forefront of American discourse - especially the treatment of 
minorities by those charged to protect and serve them - the U.S. 
Attorney's Office has failed to set an example for our nation," Mr. 
Diaz said. "Given what we know about the facts of this case, how 
could they not have convened a grand jury? The U.S. Attorney owes our 
community a real explanation."
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