NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An NYPD officer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to manslaughter charges in the shooting death of an unarmed Bronx teenager.
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There was a moment Wednesday when Haste made $50,000 bail and was leaving the courthouse when fellow officers in the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association cheered and supporters of Graham jeered, chanting “NYPD, KKK — how many kids did you kill today?”
Graham’s father was crying and emotional when he spoke outside the court.
“Haste is going home to his family,” Franclot Graham said. “When we leave here we’re going to the cemetery. I keep asking why, why, why did he kill our son? Why did he kill our son?”
Police said narcotics officers spotted Graham on the street adjusting his waistband and thought he had a gun.
When the officers approached, authorities said Graham took off running toward his home. Surveillance cameras captured Haste, who was undercover as part of the NYPD Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit, running after Graham.
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Police said officers confronted Graham in his bathroom as he tried to flush marijuana down the toilet. Moments later, Graham was shot in the chest, collapsed and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Haste’s lawyer, Stuart London, said his client yelled “show me your hands” and “police” and reiterated that other officers had radioed that Graham was armed.
“I thought he was going to shoot me so I shot him,” Haste said in a statement Wednesday read by London.
Police said they believed the teen was armed with a gun, but a gun was never recovered. Graham’s family said the teen’s grandmother and 6-year-old brother were inside the house at the time of the shooting.
“Officer Haste consciously and deliberately pulled the trigger, shooting Ramarley Graham and causing his death,” Assistant District Attorney Donald Levin said.
Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said Officer Haste had Graham practically ready to the handcuffed. He said the law that would justify deadly force does not apply.
“At the moment of Ramarley Graham’s death, he and Richard Haste were within feet of each other and as I’ve indicated Ramarley Graham was not in possession of a weapon,” Johnson said.
“We look forward to the hearing and the trial to come,” said Jeffrey Emdin, the attorney for Graham’s family.
“This is an egregious and, in my opinion, blatant case of something that must be dealt with by the full degree of the law,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, who was in the court for Haste’s arraignment. “If you know you’re unarmed, know you don’t have a gun, how would you be reaching for something that is not there?”
“In this case there was a tragedy. There was a loss of life,” said PBA president Pat Lynch. “That split second is life or death. Again, this was a tragedy, but it’s a difficult job for New York City police officers. It’s not like the TV where there’s a script to follow.”
Authorities previously said Graham had at least two prior arrests for marijuana and burglary. Haste has been on modified duty since the incident.
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