A city police officer pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges after turning himself in this morning in connection with the on-duty shooting death of unarmed Bronx teen Ramarley Graham back in February. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Standing on crutches in court after a motorcycle accident, Officer Richard Haste answered not guilty after a grand jury indicted him for first and second degree manslaughter for shooting and killing 18-year-old Ramarley Graham back in February.
The officer's attorneys and union say Haste shot him because he believed the teen had a gun.
"This was a tragedy but it’s a difficult job for New York City police officers," said PBA president Pat Lynch. "It’s not like the TV where there’s a script to follow. We do what we do with the information we had."
Officers from the street narcotics unit had radioed that they saw Graham with a gun. As he walked into his home on East 229th Street, officers, including Haste, chased behind him.
Haste told authorities that once inside, he found Graham in the bathroom and ordered him to show his hands. But Haste says the teen put his hand on his waist and turned around.
The officer says he thought he was going to be killed so he fired one fatal shot. The teen didn't have a gun.
"When they got in that hallway, when they approached that bathroom and they gave the proper orders that we're trained to give, this person did not raise their hands," Lynch said. "This police officer believed he was going to be shot."
"He and Richard Haste were within feet of each other and as I've indicated, Ramarley Graham was not in possession of a deadly weapon," said Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson. "No matter what transpired previously, it is our position that one could not form a reasonable belief that they were in jeopardy of deadly physical force."
Sitting in the courtroom, Graham's parents cried as they listened to how and why their son was shot.
"Haste is going home to his family, and when we leave here we are going to the cemetery," said Franclot Graham, Ramarley's father. "I keep asking why did he kill our son? Why, why, why did he kill our son?"
"We can't keep killing our kids," said Constance Malcolm, Ramarley Graham's mother. "It has to stop. Something has to come out of this."
Outside the courtroom, both supporters of Haste and Graham gathered to voice their thoughts.
"There are no winners here," said the Reverend Al Sharpton. "Though we wanted to see a case, we do not celebrate today. The parents have lost a son. The court cannot give them their child back and we are not trying to see revenge. We’re trying to seek justice."
Haste faces one count each of manslaughter in the first and second degrees.
Haste's attorney says he posted the $50,000 bail set by the judge.
He is due back in court in September. If convicted of the top charge, the officer could spend up to 25 years behind bars.