The cop who shot unarmed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham insisted Friday that he handled the deadly 2012 encounter in the Bronx flawlessly.
During his NYPD trial, Officer Richard Haste claimed he thought Graham had a gun after he followed the teen into his Bronx apartment on Feb. 2, 2012, on suspicion of a drug operation gone sideways. Graham was dead before cops realized he had no gun.
“The tactics I used represented a culmination of the training and experience I’ve received in this department,” he told the packed courtroom at Police Headquarters in his first public statements about the incident.
“The tactics were the best representation of my training and experience given the situation I entered.”
Sergeant in charge of Ramarley cops says he saw nothing wrong
Haste said he has undergone treatment and has second-guessed his own actions many times, but also essentially blamed Graham for the shooting.
After Officer John McLoughlin kicked down the door to the young man’s apartment, Haste said Graham rushed at him, then ducked into a bathroom.
“What was he thinking?” Haste said. “If he didn’t have a gun, why would he come toward me? I know what I did was justified and I protected my life and my team based on what we knew at the time. I was not pleased with the result.”
Angry relatives of Graham expressed disgust with the statements, with at least two people walking out and a third blurting, “He’s a liar!”
NYPD presses case against cop who killed Ramarley Graham
Graham’s mother Constance Malcolm lambasted Haste.
“He showed no remorse and he went up there and told a blatant lie,” she said outside court.
“Richard Haste should not be on the force and we have to make sure that doesn't happen. That was a murder. It wasn't even a tragedy. A tragedy is when a car hits you.”
Haste insisted it was a life-or-death situation and he couldn’t wait for specially trained officers to come as required.
“The absolute last thing I ever wanted to do is pull that trigger,” he said. “I’ve been in multiple situations with textbook justifications for shooting and I do not want to do that.”
The NYPD’s Firearms Discharge Review Board ruled the shooting justified.
But the NYPD wants to fire Haste, saying he broke just about every tactical rule in the book in forcing the deadly confrontation with the teenager.
The department says Haste should have isolated and contained Graham and waited for Emergency Services officers to conduct the entry into the apartment.
Other than the imagined gun, there was no factor compelling a confrontation, the NYPD’s lawyer said.
Haste claimed Graham shouted “suck my d--k” and reached deep into his waistband, forcing the officer to fire the fatal shot.
“I was convinced I wasn’t making it out of there,” he said. “Every training scenario taught me if you let someone pull something out of their waistband, you fail.”
Rather than sit back and try to talk Graham into coming out, Haste said he had to quickly close in on him so the teen wouldn’t have time to fire a gun.
The officer said he actually felt he waited too long before shooting.
Haste also claimed he saw no one else in the apartment until after he left Graham dying in the bathroom.
In fact, Graham’s grandmother and 6-year-old brother witnessed the shooting, according to Malcolm.
Speaking outside court, Graham’s grandmother Patricia Hartley claimed Haste threatened her after the shooting.
“He tried to choke me and take away the phone from me and tell me he will f-----g shoot me, too,” she told the Daily News.
“It was a blatant lie,” Malcolm said.
Haste’s lawyer Stuart London said he fears the NYPD is making Haste a scapegoat and will fire him.
“It's a horrible tragedy for them (Graham’s family),” he said.
“I understand that. Clearly, Officer Haste is remorseful for what the tragic end to this situation was, but the fact remains his actions were justified on the day in question.”
Precedent may be on Haste’s side. London said in nine previous disciplinary cases involving wrongful entries, the NYPD has not fired any of those cops.
Closing statements in the five-day trial are slated for Monday.
Deputy Commissioner Rosemarie Maldonado has an indeterminate period of time to make a decision.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill can either either adopt her decision or come up with his own ruling and penalty.
Haste remains on desk duty, stripped of his gun and shield, and assigned to the Fleet Service Division. He said he is also taking graduate classes in mental health.Send a Letter to the Editor