NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The parents of an unarmed Bronx teen who was shot and killed in his bathroom by a New York City police officer delivered tens of thousands of petitions Wednesday demanding that the Department of Justice provide answers about the death.
The family of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham and other civil leaders marched with 33,000 petitions to the Manhattan office of Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported. They are demanding that Bharara conclude his investigation into Graham’s death and tell his family what happened, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
Protesters chanted: “Convene a grand jury for Ramarley! No justice, no peace!”
Graham was fatally shot by Officer Richard Haste on Feb. 2, 2012, in his family’s apartment in the Bronx.
Police said narcotics officers spotted Graham on the street adjusting his waistband and thought he had a gun. When the officers approached, Graham took off running toward his home, authorities said.
Police said officers confronted Graham in the bathroom as he tried to flush marijuana down the toilet. Graham’s family said the teen’s grandmother and 6-year-old brother were inside the house at the time of the shooting.
A gun was never recovered. Authorities previously said Graham had at least two prior arrests for marijuana and burglary.
“He was not doing anything illegal, and he was killed. For what? We need answers,” Assemblyman Karim Camara, D-Brooklyn, said at Wednesday’s rally. “This is not Jim Crow South.”
Haste was indicted, but the case was dismissed. A second grand jury decided not to indict the officer. The Justice Department has been reviewing the case for the last year.
Graham’s father wants to know why it has taken the feds so long to act.
“My son has been dead almost 2 1/2 years, and I’m still waiting for our day,” Franclot Graham said Wednesday. “We haven’t had a meeting. We haven’t had a face-to-face with anyone. … We feel as if we don’t even count, like we don’t even exist.”
NYPD Internal Affairs is also investigating, Diamond reported.
In an unrelated case, the Rev. Al Sharpton renewed calls Tuesday for a federal investigation into the police custody death of Eric Garner, who died on Staten Island last month after being placed in an apparent chokehold by an officer.
Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan announced earlier Tuesday that he would ask a grand jury to consider charges against the officer in the case.
Garner’s death had been ruled a homicide caused by “compression of his neck (chokehold), compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”
Sharpton said he, Garner’s family and their attorneys are set to meet with U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch on Thursday.
“This announcement does not impact our move for federal takeover of this case at all,” Sharpton said in a statement.
Garner family attorney Sanford Rubenstein said the family “wants the federal government to come in and prosecute this case.”
“The fact that the state grand jury has been convened does not change anything,” said Rubenstein.
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said a federal intervention is not necessary.
“How can you say you want a fair investigation, or the investigation that’s going on is not fair, before it’s completed?” Lynch said Tuesday. “How can you say we need to take this out of one district attorney’s hands when the autopsy report has not been released? Al Sharpton just wants to walk through the streets and blame the police for everything that goes on in the world. That’s not the case.”
Sharpton is also planning a rally on Staten Island this Saturday to protest Garner’s death.
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