Hundreds of people gathered outside the 47th Precinct station house last night to protest Thursday's killing of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham at the hands of an NYPD officer. Marching from the family's home on East 229th Street, the crowd chanted "NYPD KKK" and "No Justice, no peace!" According to the Times, Graham's sister Leona Virgo addressed the crowd. "This is not just about Ramarley," she said. "This is about all young black men."
Graham was shot and killed in his bathroom after police, believing he had a gun, spotted him engaging in a drug deal and followed him home. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters that officers announced their presence after entering the home, and that the officer who killed Graham, 30-year-old Richard Haste, yelled "Show me your hands! Gun! Gun!" before firing. Graham's 58-year-old grandmother, Patricia Hartley, was the only other person in the apartment and said she heard no such thing.
Graham did not struggle with police before he died, as was initially reported, and was allegedly dumping a small amount of marijuana in the toilet when he was killed.
Family friends also say that Hartley was taken to the 47th Precinct immediately after the shooting for questioning and held there for seven hours. NYPD spokesperson Paul Browne claimed it was actually five and a half hours, and Kelly said his department was investigating her treatment.
"They keep killing innocent young men. It just hurts to see the abuse of power," Juanita Young, a mother of a 23-year-old man who was killed by NYPD officers in 2000 told the Daily News. As a result of the police's actions, Young was awarded $10.5 million in a wrongful death suit, and joined the protest yesterday in solidarity with Graham's family. "There are no words to describe our pain as mothers."
Commissioner Kelly noted that the incident would be referred to a grand jury to determine whether a crime was committed. Officer Haste and a sergeant who accompanied him in the home have been stripped of their guns and placed on desk duty.