A fight for Justice in the Bronx, two years after Remarley Graham was killed in his home by a police officer
By Tony Best
Special to the NNPA from the New York Carib News
If Remarley Graham had lived and not cut down in his own home by a police officer’s bullet, the Caribbean immigrant would have celebrated his 21st birthday less than two weeks ago.
So on April 12, his birthday, the youth’s mother journeyed to her son’s final resting place to think about what should have been and the importance of justice in a case that has troubled New York and the rest of the country as well as Jamaica, Remarley’s birthplace.
“My day was spent at the cemetery,” said Constance Malcolm, the 40 year old Jamaican woman. “I have three kids and one is missing. He’s not here and he should have been here.”
Many community leaders, elected officials, civil rights advocates and others interested in the pursuit of justice think the same way.
“We want justice,” insisted Malcolm after participating in a demonstration outside the federal court house building in Manhattan. “We will not stop until they look at what happened to my son.”
New York State Senator Ruth Hassell Thompson agreed with Malcolm and is supporting the family’s belief that a conspiracy was afoot by the NYPD and members of the criminal justice system to deny them the justice to which they are entitled.
“The whole (New York) Police Department conspired against this family,” was the way the lawmaker put it. What occurred on February 2nd in 2012 was as heart-breaking as it was as deadly.
A police anti-drug squad in the Bronx spotted Graham walking along the street. Believing he was carrying a gun or drugs or both chased him from White Plains Road and East 228th Street to his home at 749 East 229th Street in the Wakefield section of the borough. A cop, Richard Haste, rushed into the youth’s home, according to police reports, confronted Remarley in a bathroom and shot him to death. No firearm was found and only a small bag of marijuana was confiscated by police.
Street demonstrations erupted in the City protesting what most people believed was a travesty and when the Bronx District Attorney’s office investigated the shooting Haste, who said he heard over the police radio that the youth had a gun, was indicted on manslaughter charges but a court threw out them because of an errort by a prosecutor. A second grand jury declined to indict the cop but the U.S. Attorney’s office stated last August that it would review the case to see if Remarley’s civil rights were violated.
The office promised to seek to “determine whether there were any violations of the federal criminal civil rights laws.”
But as Malcolm explained it the other day, there has been “nothing but silence since then.”
And when Bharrat’s office was contacted by news organizations about the status of the case, officials declined to give a status report, saying it wasn’t their policy to comment on an ongoing probe.
That’s why several lawmakers have fired off a letter to Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney-General, whose office has brought more criminal civil rights cases against wrongdoers across the country than any other AG in recent memory.
“In the interest of seeking truth and justice we are asking for an extensive and exhaustive investigation into the killing of Remarley Graham,” wrote members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus to Holder.
“We believe the investigation will uncover that the action of Officer Haste violated the civil rights of Remarley, his family and the other residents in the home,” the letter added.
Assemblyman Karim Camara, chairman of the Caucus was quite clear on the matter: “It appears this was a gross injustice.”
In the meantime, Malcolm and her family are left to grieve.
“He was just becoming a man and figuring out what he wanted to do in life,” said the dead youth’s mother. “While no federal charges…. will ever bring Remarley back justice can help provide some level of confidence in our system and the concept of right and wrong.”