NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A former NYPD officer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager is speaking out, saying he has thought about the encounter “literally every day,” but “chose to go out on my terms.”
Richard Haste resigned from the NYPD on Sunday. He was brought on departmental charges for demonstrating “poor judgment” by not taking obvious steps to defuse a fatal 2012 standoff with Ramarley Graham.
Administrative Judge Rosemarie Maldonado said Friday he should be fired. Police Commissioner James O’Neill said he agreed with the judge’s findings, but Haste, who had been on modified duty with the NYPD for five years, quit instead.
“It’s pretty much what it is, it’s the route I chose,” he told CBS2. “I chose to go out on my terms.”
“It’s probably the most difficult decision i had to make,” Haste added.
Haste said he believes the decision to remove him from the force was politically motivated, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported.
“It definitely had an air of not having to do with police work, but having to do obviously with powers above that — political nature of the job,” Haste said. “Which I understand. We work here, we have to have the public’s trust, but to go for that solution seemed a little too charged.”
The 35-year-old officer initially faced a criminal manslaughter charge in the death, but the case was dismissed because of a procedural error. A new grand jury declined to indict, and federal prosecutors also declined to bring charges.
Graham was shot to death in his home in front of his grandmother and 8-year-old brother.
In his testimony during the departmental trial, Haste recounted how he got out of his police van during a drug probe in Graham’s Bronx neighborhood and followed the teenager, suspected on police radio chatter of having a gun, into his apartment building.
After Haste and his partner broke down the door of Graham’s home, the officer said he saw Graham sidestep into a bathroom, and he leaned inside to face him.
Haste testified that he yelled, “Show me your hands!” but Graham instead reached deeper into his pants and yelled obscenities. Haste said he thought he “was about to be shot.”
Speaking Monday to CBS2, Haste said he’s thought about the incident “every day since February 2012.”
“Literally, every single waking day of my life,” he said.
But Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm, said Monday that she was outraged Haste quit instead of getting fired.
“Where’s my son’s justice? Where is the city of New York’s justice for the people in our community?” she asked at a press conference. “I’m here to say Ramarley’s life mattered.”
She also said the outcome did nothing to restore her trust in the system.
“Five years later, again I’m standing here with a slap in the face,” she said. “Same disrespect over and over for five years.”
Malcolm and other activists have also demanded the firing of two other officers involved in the shooting and questioned why the shooting was considered justified.
“This was the perfect case to show us that our young men and women matter,” Malcolm said.
They blasted the NYPD and the mayor’s office for “allowing” Haste to resign, and for not being told of the decision first. The family was notified as the news became public.
“They might have found him guilty, but not in my favor — it ended today Richard Haste walking scot-free,” Malcolm said.
When asked whether she’d meet with Haste, Malcolm balked.
“Nothing he could say to me is going to take away that pain,” she said.
Haste was also asked if has anything to say to Graham’s family.
“I would be happy to avail myself to them personally if they have any questions or issues,” he said. “I’d be happy to address that one-on-one.”
Haste is getting his masters degree in mental health counseling. He will not receive a pension or permit to carry a gun.
“They’ve looked at discipline, discipline, discipline,” Haste said. “What about fixing it so its less likely to happen?”
The teen’s family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the city for $3.9 million.
Malcom said she would continue to fight for justice and wants to see the other two NYPD officers involved in the incident are also fired from the police force.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)