City Councilmembers To NYPD: Release Ramarley Graham's Records To His Family

Constance Malcom, Ramarley's mother, addresses the media at a press conference this morning.
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Constance Malcom, Ramarley's mother, addresses the media at a press conference this morning. via Communities United for Police Reform

Members of the City Council's Progressive Caucus and supporters of the family of Ramarley Graham once again called on the NYPD to release information about Graham's killing by an NYPD officer in 2012. In addition, the Progressive Caucus announced they had submitted an amicus brief with Graham's family in their suit against the NYPD seeking that information.

The Graham family filed a Freedom of Information Law request and was rejected, so they sued the department. The records they're requesting include the police department's reasoning behind why officers targeted Graham and two of his friends, the chain of custody for pieces of evidence from the shooting, like the officer's gun, information on how police and first responders treated the crime scene and Graham's body following the shooting, and any information about members of the NYPD who might have accessed Graham's sealed criminal history to leak that information to the press.

Graham's mother accused the NYPD of tampering with the crime scene following the 2012 shooting, when they moved Graham's body from his grandmother's bathroom. "It's important to know how the body was positioned, and they could have lost other evidence that was needed," Constance Malcolm said last year.

"For an administration that has repeated commitments to better transparency and accountability around the better policing conversation, it remains aggravating to hear these commitments, while simultaneously keeping information from Ramarley Graham’s family regarding the circumstances around his murder," Council Member Jumaane Williams said at the press conference.

Williams also said that NYPD accountability is even worse under the de Blasio administration than it has been in previous administrations.

While Richard Haste, the officer who shot and killed Graham eventually faced an internal disciplinary hearing after a Bronx grand jury declined to indict him for the 2012 shooting, two other officers involved in the killing have yet to face hearings. Haste quit the force after the department determined he should be fired, but Officer John McLaughlin and Sergeant Scott Morris have still not faced hearings that the NYPD claims they would bring against the men. Graham's family settled a civil suit with the city in 2015 for $3.9 million.

Gideon Oliver, a civil rights attorney who brought the FOIL lawsuit on behalf of Graham's family, criticized the NYPD for the delays and for hiding behind the idea that revealing information about the case would prejudice the hearings.

"We are asking the Court to reject the NYPD's unsupported claims that releasing records about the shooting from 2012 would interfere with their trials by revealing NYPD’s prosecutorial strategy or inciting public opinion against them. The NYPD already revealed its prosecutorial strategies, during Haste’s trial, where Morris and McLoughlin testified. And, if the NYPD ever schedules them and if they ever take place, Morris and McLoughlin’s trials would take place before an NYPD administrative judge, unlikely to be influenced by public opinion."

Earlier this year, Haste's disciplinary records were leaked to the website ThinkProgress. While the police misconduct claims against Haste weren't proven, "unsubstantiated" claims aren't the same as getting exonerated.

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