Ramarley Graham would have turned 23 on April 12 of this year. To commemorate this now-bittersweet occasion, his family has launched #23Days4Ramarley from April 12-May 4, and is asking for support in building and participating in events and actions held around the city demanding that Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Bill Bratton publicly identify and fire all of the officers involved in Ramarley’s killing.
Ramarley was just a couple of months shy of his 19th birthday on February 2, 2012. What we know is that minutes after walking up to his house and entering his home, Ramarley, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by NYPD Officer Richard Haste. Haste and his team from the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit broke down the door of Ramarley’s home without a warrant and shot him once in the chest at close range as his grandmother and Ramarley’s then-6-year-old brother watched in horror.
The particularly egregious and heinous act of killing an unarmed teenager in his own home in front of his terrorized family members struck a deep nerve in the city and in the Bronx, in particular. Ramarley’s mother and father, Constance Malcolm and Frank Graham, were able to mobilize a significant number of activists and residents to demand Haste’s indictment. After nearly four months of protests and marches, they won their demand — the first time an NYPD officer had been indicted since the killing of Sean Bell in 2006.
But, a year later Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven L. Barrett threw out the indictment, claiming that the instructions to the grand jury did not follow protocol. Ramarley’s parents fought again to have the grand jury reconvened, only to be denied. Finally, Malcolm and Graham demanded that the Department of Justice launch a federal investigation into their son’s killing. But on March 8 of this year, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office denied that request, citing “insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal charges.”
Ramarley’s parents, despite all of these travesties of justice, are doing what they have done from the beginning of this nightmare and are vowing to fight on. They want everyone involved to be held accountable for their actions.
In addition to murdering their son, officers from the NYPD’s 47th precinct interrogated Ramarley’s traumatized grandmother immediately after her grandson’s death for over seven hours, refusing her access to an attorney. The NYPD did not notify Constance Malcolm that her son had been shot and killed — she was informed by her mother, and then thrown up against a wall and the floor upon learning that her son was dead.
Ramarley’s family is alleging a cover-up based on the fact that Ramarley’s body was immediately moved from the scene of the shooting and they did not have access to or even know where the body was located for four days after the killing.
Ramarley’s parents and family have persevered against one obstacle after another and their exceptional determination has served as a model for what it looks like to fight back. After four long years and no accountability or justice, it is long past time to hold killer cops to account. Justice delayed is justice denied.