Huffington Post’s John Rudolf has more on that deadly police shooting in the Bronx.
A week after police shot to death an unarmed 18-year-old in his grandmother’s Bronx apartment, questions continue to swirl around the aggressive police tactics that led to the fatal confrontation.
Ramarley Graham died last Thursday after Richard Haste, 30, a New York police officer, kicked down the door of his grandmother’s apartment and shot Graham in the chest while he attempted to flush a bag of marijuana down the toilet. Graham was unarmed and police did not have a warrant to enter the home.
It looks as if this was a stop-and-frisk that went south. Graham first came to the cops’ attention while leaving a bodega under investigation for drug activity. He ran when they asked him to stop,likely because he had pot on him. That’s not a crime in New York (so long as its an amount small enough for personal use). But as we all now know, once they’ve stopped you, the cops will then trick you into “displaying” it, at which point it becomes a crime.
Footage from private surveillance cameras shows Graham walking into his grandmother’s apartment building, a three-story home on a residential street.
Police officers, guns drawn, quickly follow and attempt to kick down the front door after finding it locked. In the back of the building, other officers swarm in through a rear apartment. The cameras do not capture what transpired inside, but police officials confirmed that officers entered the grandmother’s apartment with force and without a warrant.
The large number of officers at the house indicated that Graham wasn’t likely to escape and that officers could have waited to obtain a warrant before storming the apartment, said Emdin, the Graham family’s attorney.
“They can’t take matters into their own hands like this and violate the Constitution,” Emdin said.
John Wesley Hall, a criminal defense attorney in Little Rock, Ark. who has argued cases involving police searches before the Supreme Court, said a police suspicion that Graham might be carrying an illegal handgun was insufficient justification for breaking down his door.
“If they thought he had a gun, they should have stopped him on the street and not waited for him to go inside,” Hall said. “Any reasonable officer would have known that they needed a warrant to get into the house.”
The most crucial question facing Haste, the shooting officer, will surround his actions inside the apartment.
Haste’s partner told investigators that Haste identified himself as a police officer, told Graham to “show his hands” and then yelled “gun, gun” before firing, Kelly said.
But Graham’s grandmother maintains that officers did not announce their presence before kicking down her door and that Haste did not say anything to Graham before shooting him, Emdin said.
“I asked her if they said ‘police’ when they entered,” Emdin said. “She says 100 percent no.”
The police also initially said Graham “struggled” with the cop who shot him, but then retracted that story the next day. I’m not sure it really even matters if the cops identified themselves, given that the kid was unarmed when they shot him. If we take the police story at face value, the cops twice saw a gun that they have yet to find, and doesn’t appear to have existed.
Add another body to the drug war pile.