A crowd gathered in front of the Bronx Supreme Criminal Court Thursday to protest police violence during a trial hearing for Richard Haste, a Bronx police officer charged with the shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham inside his home earlier this year.
More that 50 people chanted, sang songs and held up signs outside the 161st Street courthouse that read, “Richard Haste, you can’t hide,” and “When will it stop?”
Graham was killed on Feb. 2, after Haste chased him inside his Wakefield home, shooting and killing him while his grandmother and his 6-year-old brother looked on. Before the incident, a street narcotics team had been monitoring a nearby bodega where they spotted Graham and two others. Suspecting that he had a gun, the officers followed him home, forced the door open and entered without a warrant.
Moments later, Haste fired a single shot, killing Graham in his bathroom as he was trying to flush some marijuana down the toilet. No gun was recovered from the home.
Haste has pled not guilty to first- and second-degree manslaughter charges.
During Thursday’s hearing, Haste’s defense team won a trial postponement until the police and prosecution can provide documents that show why police believed Graham was armed.
The brief court proceeding was packed with press and family, friends and supporters of both Graham and Haste yesterday. Afterwards, Graham’s family held a brief conference outside the courthouse.
“We are going to do what we need to do to keep his memory alive and also fight for justice. We will never stop,” said Franclot Graham, Ramarley’s father as he stood beside Constance Malcolm, the victim’s mother.
A small group of family members and community supporters later gathered in front of the 47th precinct with signs and whistles, rallying against police violence and its stop-and-frisk policies. Some of the protesters had buttons condemning the search tactic while others wore t-shirts printed with the words, “UC my hands. No Gun. Why did you shoot?” Similar rallies were planned at precincts across the Bronx.
Tomasina Sams Riddick, co-founder of the civil rights organization Black Law Enforcement Alliance, said police violence plaguing Black and Hispanic communities is, at its core, racially motivated.
“You can’t Google a white person murdered by police,” she told protesters. “It is people of color. So we must continue our fight.”
Activists also said police violence is on the rise, citing last week’s killing of Reynaldo Cuevas, a 20-year-old bodega worker who was shot by officers as he was running away from an armed robbery. His death stirred widespread criticism and is currently under investigation.
“A lot of people are angry that this keeps happening,” said Malcolm, who has responded to her son’s killing by founding Ramarley’s Call, an organization dedicated to seeking justice for Graham and fighting against police violence.
David Vaughan, Graham’s former tutor also spoke at the rally, describing his student as an educated young man beyond his years and condemning the circumstances around his death.
“You don’t know what dream you’re killing when you do something like this,” Vaughan said.
The family said they would continue holding vigils until they see justice being served in court. Ramarley’s Call currently organizes vigils and rallies every second Thursday in a bid to preserve Graham’s memory and to remind the community of his death.
Haste was the first city officer charged in an on-duty shooting since 2007, when the high profile shooting of Sean Bell led to charges against three detectives. The officers were acquitted in 2008 but were later dismissed from the force.
Court proceedings in the Haste case will resume Dec. 11.
Mariana Ionova can be contacted via email at email@example.com or on Twitter.