Updated: March 8, 2016, 3:58 PM
BY VICTORIA BEKIEMPIS, DAREH GREGORIAN
|RAMARLEY GRAHAM FAMILY|
|Ramarley Graham was chased into his Bronx home by police, shot and killed.|
The Manhattan US Attorney's office will not prosecute the NYPD officer who killed an unarmed Ramarley Graham, a decision the slain teen's family called "heartbreaking."
“After conducting a thorough and independent investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office has determined that there is insufficient evidence to meet the high burden of proof required for a federal criminal civil rights prosecution” of Officer Richard Haste, Preet Bharara's office said in a statement.
"Accordingly, this Office's investigation into Mr. Graham's death has been closed."
Graham's mom, Constance Malcolm, who met with Bharara Tuesday before he announced he would not be convening a grand jury in the case, said, "It's been four years and to wait four years and get this decision, it's like a slap in the face."
Graham’s dad, Frank Graham, called the decision "frustrating” and “heartbreaking.”
“But we'll just move onto the next fight — which is firing the officers (involved) immediately," Graham said.
|Ramarley Graham's father Frank Graham said he'll continue to fight to get Richard Haste (pictured) fired from the NYPD.|
Bharara said his office had undertaken a “thorough” review of the events that led to Graham’s shooting on Feb. 2, 2012.
It showed officers mistakenly thought the 18-year-old had a gun on him when he and some friends walked out of a bodega the cops had been watching.
Based on the bad intel, Haste followed Graham into his apartment.
“The evidence establishes that Officer Haste advanced into the hallway of the apartment with his firearm drawn, where he encountered Mr. Graham. According to Officer Haste, he gave commands to Mr. Graham to the effect of, ‘Police, show me your hands,’” the feds said.
Graham moved to the bathroom, and “at this critical moment in time, no other witness present in the apartment, including Mr. Graham's grandmother, had a view of Mr. Graham.”
Haste said Graham faced him “with his hand in his waistband” and “then made a motion as if he were pulling something out of his pants,” the statement said. Haste said “he believed that Mr. Graham was reaching for the weapon that had been described in the earlier radio transmission, and that he fired one round from his weapon in response to a perceived deadly threat.
“The bullet struck Mr. Graham, causing his death. No gun was found at the scene. A bag of marijuana was found in the toilet bowl next to where Mr. Graham was standing.”
The US Attorney’s office said the probe found “no evidence to refute Officer Haste's claim that he shot Mr. Graham in response to his mistaken belief that Mr. Graham was reaching for a gun.”
That means there’s not enough evidence for the feds to prosecute, because they’d have to prove “that a law enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right, meaning that the officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids.”
“Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation,” the statement said.
|U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office said its review showed officers mistakenly thought Graham had a gun on him when he and some friends walked out of a bodega they’d been watching.|
Graham’s family had pinned their hopes on Bharara’s office after a roller coaster of experiences with the Bronx District Attorney’s office.
A Bronx grand jury indicted Haste in Graham’s death, but the judge threw out the June 2012 indictment because of a legal technicality.
A second grand jury decided not to indict Haste, 34.
A rep for the NYPD said, “Now that the federal investigation into the Ramarley Graham case has concluded, the NYPD's internal disciplinary process will move forward.”