The New York City officer who chased an unarmed Black teen into his home before fatally shooting him quit the police force on Sunday to avoid firing after a disciplinary trial.
Richard Haste, 35, who is White, was was found guilty of departmental charges of demonstrating “poor judgement” in the 2012 death of Ramarley Graham, rather than taking the steps to defuse the incident. An administrative judge had recommended on Friday that he should be fired. Police Commissioner James O’Neill had not ruled on Haste’s fate, but was in agreement with the judge. However before he could issue an official ruling, the officer resigned.
In the 2012 shooting, Haste was on duty during a drug investigation in Graham’s neighborhood in New York’s Bronx borough. Suspecting he had a gun, Haste followed the 18-year-old into his home, where he locked himself inside. Haste and his partner broke down the door to the apartment and Graham stepped into a bathroom. The officer testified that he ordered Graham to show his hands, but instead he reached into his pants. Believing he would be shot, Haste opened fire, killing Graham. His grandmother and younger brother were in the apartment and witnessed the shooting.
Department prosecutors said once Graham locked himself inside, the officers should have stopped there and retreated, indicating a tactical mistake.
Haste had faced a criminal manslaughter charge in Graham’s death, but that case was dismissed because of an error and later another grand jury did not indict him. He also avoided federal charges in the case.
“He was exonerated by both a state and federal grand jury,” Haste’s lawyer, Stuart London told the Associated Press. “The New York City Police Department Firearms Discharge Review Board found the shooting to be justified. All of officer Haste’s actions were performed in good faith. He never should have been forced to resign based on tactics alone.”
Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm, was critical of the process and believes Haste got off easy because he was allowed to quit before being fired.
“Every step of the way, the mayor and NYPD have dragged their heels and have refused to hold officers accountable for murdering my son,” she said. “How is my youngest son supposed to trust and believe in cops when he saw they murdered his brother in front of him and there is zero accountability?”
Graham’s family settled a wrongful death lawsuit with New York City in 2015 for $3.9 million.