Matthew Lysiak et al., NY Daily News, June 14, 2012
The cheers of fellow cops for her unarmed son’s killer stung Constance Malcolm as cruelly as the bitter tears in her eyes.
“That’s how they work,” the heartbroken mom said Wednesday after Officer Richard Haste was sprung on $50,000 bail in the Feb. 2 shooting of Ramarley Graham. “You see it every day.”
Malcolm and her husband, Franclot Graham, sobbed throughout the Bronx Criminal Court hearing where Haste softly pleaded innocent on his 31st birthday. The weeping Graham faces Father’s Day without his son.
Yet the assembled cops still applauded their brother in blue, who faces up to 25 years in prison, in a salute that struck the Graham family like a slap in the face.
“There is nothing to cheer here,” said Graham family lawyer Jeffrey Emdin. “A young man lost his life, and that is the man who took that life.
Courthouse protesters infuriated by the Bronx killing offered a vocal counterpoint to the clapping by taunting the four-year NYPD veteran.
“NYPD, KKK, how many kids did you kill today?” the demonstrators chanted at Haste, who appeared in court on crutches after a recent motorcycle accident.
Prosecutor Donald Levin, during the arraignment, said Haste’s decision to fire a single fatal shot into Graham was “neither reasonable or justifiable.”
In the most detailed description yet of the fatal encounter, Levin said Graham and Haste were just a few feet apart inside the cramped second-floor bathroom.
Haste “stood face to face with Ramarley Graham,” his weapon pointed directly at the teen, whose grandmother and 6-year-old brother were nearby, Levin said.
“Ramarley Graham was boxed in the bathroom. He had nowhere to go,” the prosecutor continued, using his hands to pantomime the shooting. “Ramarley was looking at the barrel, the muzzle of the gun.”
It was the last thing the teenager ever saw.
“Then Officer Haste consciously and deliberately pulled the trigger, shooting Ramarley Graham and causing his death,” said Levin.
Defense attorney Stuart London insisted Haste believed he was about to die when he pulled the trigger.
Haste slipped into the courthouse through a side door to face arraignment on manslaughter charges. One side of the courtroom was filled with police officers and unions reps, while the other held the Graham family and their supporters.
The latter group made a dramatic courtroom entrance, gripping one another’s shoulders to form a human chain as they marched silently through the hallway.
Haste chased Graham into his apartment after hearing reports via police radio that the teen drug suspect had a gun in his waistband, police said.
While cops contend Graham ran when ordered to stop, surveillance video showed him walking inside his home before plainclothes cops tried to kick their way into the apartment.
Haste claimed that he fired once after identifying himself as a police officer and mistakenly thinking that he saw a weapon — but no gun was found.