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Police Commissioner: No Struggle Before Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Man

Thursday, February 02, 2012

NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly talking about the shooting of an unarmed man in the Bronx. (Ailsa Chang/WNYC)

Approximately 100 Bronx residents held a vigil and then marched to the 47th Police Precinct Friday night in the neighborhood where a police officer fatally shot 18-year-old Ramarley Graham. Earlier in the day Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said a supervising sergeant and the officer who fatally shot the unarmed Graham had been placed on restricted duty.

During the vigil and march, people held signs that read “black men: endangered species” and “stop killing our kids.” 

Sharla Buchanan lives on 229th street, across from the Graham family. “I’m here because my neighbor got killed by a police officer in his own home. I’m angry because I live on this block. I got kids, nephews, uncles and their life is in danger by the police. They’re killing us.”

Juan Tavares, 26, was one of the marchers that went to the precinct demanding answer. He said young black men can't trust the cops so he doesn't blame Graham for running from them. "I would run from the police, all of us would run from the police, " he said. "I could have been out here with nothing in my pocket and they give me the vibe that they're coming for me and I feel like I have the right to get away, I'm getting away."

(Photo: Community protestors march to 47th precinct. Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

Police say the officer shot Graham in his home Thursday after a foot pursuit.

"We obviously have some real concerns, and until we know what really happened there’s not a lot else I can say," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday.

The shooting occurred at about 3 p.m. Thursday in the Bronx. Plainclothes officers wearing NYPD raid jackets were there investigating street corner drug dealing, department spokesman Paul Browne said.

The suspect, Ramarley Graham, took off on foot and rounded a corner toward his home, police said. An officer pursued him into the second-floor apartment, police said.

The officer fired one shot at close range from his 9mm semiautomatic handgun, Browne said. The victim was struck in the chest and collapsed inside the bathroom. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Kelly said that a bag of marijuana was found in the home. He also said that Graham "appeared to be armed," but no weapon was recovered.

Browne said two other police officers and family members of the victim, including his grandmother, were inside the apartment at the time of the shooting.

The name of the 30-year-old officer was not released. He joined the police force in 2008 and had not been involved in any previous shootings, Browne said.

Investigators were interviewing potential witnesses, and the shooting remained under investigation, he said.

The victim's distraught mother, Constance Malcolm, said nobody deserves "to get shot like that, in your own house."

"Everybody's kids get into trouble," she said. "He smoked a little weed like all the other young kids do, and that's what he had on him when they were chasing him."

When asked if her son had a gun, she said, "He had nothing."

(Photo: Memorial outside Graham’s home, where he was shot. Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

The shooting of Graham was the third time in a week that an NYPD officer killed a criminal suspect.

On Jan. 26, an off-duty NYPD officer shot and killed a carjacking suspect during a shootout in Brooklyn. And on Sunday night, an off-duty detective shot and killed a 17-year-old after police say the teen and another suspect hit the officer with a cane and tried to rob him in Brooklyn while he was walking to catch a subway to work.

In a fourth shooting involving the NYPD on Tuesday, a gunman shot an officer in the head after the officer responded to a report of shots fired in Brooklyn, police said. The shooter was caught about two hours after and was charged with attempted murder, they said.

The wounded officer is expected to recover.

Kelly said that police shootings tend to occur in "clumps," but did not believe there was any "connectivity" between the officer who got shot and the Graham shooting.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said in a statement that officers "must be better trained to deal with the communities they work in, to better respect the lives of those they are charged with protecting and serving."

"We can no longer tolerate our young men and women falling victim to excessive violence at the hands of our police, or worse yet," he said, "lose their lives unjustly."

Speaking on his weekly WOR radio show Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said there were a "surprisingly few" times that police officers draw their guns and shoot.

With reporting from Ailsa Chang, Bob Hennelly and Kathleen Horan

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Comments [17]

Long Island from Long Island

John from the office u are really detached from reality my friend the young man was 100 % wrong for having weed and for running from the cops but the truth of the matter is they had no justifiable reason to pull out their guns in his home and then kill him in his home u have the young man cornered in his bathroom use your batons tasers mase and all the other weapons at ur disposal to detain for resisting arrest but to say you have no sympathy and that he was a criminal is just insensitive and disrespectful to all the people that knew and loved this young man think of the everlasting impact this will have on his 6 year old brother...But I mean according to u he would have learned a very valuable lesson having a bag of weed is grounds for getting shot and killed in your home by the same people who are supposed to be protecting your community His "Bad" parents don't need to teach him that lesson now huh?

Feb. 12 2012 10:11 PM
Tom LI

Looks like we're reaping the results of all those testosterone addled boys who joined the force post 9-11 - all hyped up to get them some bad-guys.

The first mistake that cop made was running after anyone into a possible ambush...this cop should be fired for that alone...being a bad tactical cop.

Feb. 03 2012 05:32 PM

This is an outrage. Does anyone on this board really think that an unarmed white kid smoking some dope and running into his house to escape being arrested would be followed into the home by cops who would shoot him dead in front of his grandmother? Bloomberg and Kelly need to remove this officer from the force. He just murdered an innocent teenager. (And he just cost innocent taxpayers another multi-million dollar payout in a rightful civil suit.)

Feb. 03 2012 05:24 PM
Political PoP from America =(

Sounds like A Racist Matter At HAND

Feb. 03 2012 05:12 PM
John from Office

Read the facts, he was a drug dealer, not some kid on his way to school, getting high. I do blame the parents, raising criminals.

Feb. 03 2012 04:42 PM
Gina P.

Blame the parents? So, if your child tries pot, you deserve to lose that child to death because you were so horrible?

The response from the police needs to be proportional. If someone is speeding, they deserve to get a ticket. The cop does not have the right to rip them out of the car, force them to the ground and cuff them the way they would someone who committed a violent crime.

This kid smoked pot! He was not a threat to anyone, and he was shot by the police. Not one person is safer as a result. If anything, I am far more scared! Is this what we allow in our society? Have we become a police state where you follow the rules or we shoot you?

Feb. 03 2012 04:33 PM
John from office

How about parenting you children where they are not running wild in the street, getting into trouble. The problem is not the police, it is the parents of these "children" who don't do their jobs. Now the city will be sued by the sad parents for their own failure to raise a good citizen, instead of a criminal defendant. Sorry, no sympathy.

I know, I know, blame the system, the police, the white man, Etc....

Feb. 03 2012 04:05 PM
Gina P.

Bobo,
I do not understand your logic. The shoplifter in your story did not do anything violent until you tackled him. He was running away. There was no reason to think any harm would have come to you had you not stopped him.

The same applies here. The kid was running away. There was no threat to the cop or the community. He was not a violent criminal and there was no reason to think that letting him go would result in any violence.

There needs to be some kind of proportional response. It is not ok for a store clerk to bash a guy's head against the sidewalk for shoplifting and it is not ok for a cop to shoot a kid for having pot. If a weapon-or even the suspicion of a weapon-were involved, that would be different. The 2 in these stories were running away. No one was going to get hurt.

Feb. 03 2012 03:36 PM
bobo from BX

I used to think that police were really agressive -- until I worked as a store clerk and confronted a shoplifter. Before I did so I locked the front door -- which had a full pane of glass in the door. The shoplifter was in the back of the store and I decided to walk towards him approaching him from the aisle next to where he pocketing merchandise. I told him, "You have a choice take the items out of your pockets and leave or I'll call the police." He responded by declaring, "I'm not going back to jail!" He then took off running down the aisle with me in pursuit. He reached the front door and discovering it was locked backed up almost knocking me down then proceeded to run towards the door. As I began to wonder what he thought he was going to accomplish the shoplifter crashed through the full pane of glass (which was 1/4 in thick) and proceeded to run down the street. I ran after him and tackled him by wrapping my arms around his legs. He kicked himself free and began to get up. At this point a clerk from the store next to the store where I worked came to my aid. He pushed the shoplifter down and firmly stated, "stay down!" The shoplifter began to get up so the clerk pushed him down and bounced the shoplifter's head on the pavement several times -- like a basketball! Still the shoplifter attempted to get up so the clerk bounced his head on the pavement again. Finally, the shoplifter decided he was going to comply.

Now, someone might read this and think, "What's all the fuss about - let the shoplifter take what he, or she, wants." With that kind of attitude the store shelves would literally be empty.

More to the point: the police literally do not know what a person is capable of -- or what they may or may not have on their person. So, when a police officer says, "Stop" and a person runs the police have every right to use force.

Feb. 03 2012 02:01 PM
Gina P.

Should he have been smoking pot? No. Should he have run? No.

Should the punishment for either of these be death? Of course not! This was not a dangerous person who may have hurt or killed someone if not stopped! This was a scared kid who had some weed. He was not a danger to anyone.

Do we want to live in a country where cops shoot first and ask questions later? Where reasonable force for a non violent criminal involves shooing them in the chest?

Unless new details come out that it did not play out as described here-the cop should be tried for murder.

Feb. 03 2012 02:00 PM

@Jewels

They do have alternative means of subduing suspects. They're called pepper spray and tasers. Even the officer's night stick would have likely done the job.

Feb. 03 2012 01:10 PM
Jewels from Cleveland

Wow..that's really sad I wish they had other way's of taken these bad people down reater than to use deadly force. The police also have to protect themself's. But why run from the police??? That just make's it worse.

Feb. 03 2012 12:12 PM

Legalize it already. Either that, or have these hyper-aggressive cops run like that into the Soho bathrooms and such where all the Wall St. professionals snort their cocaine.

Feb. 03 2012 11:24 AM
John from office

We are assaulting ourselves, sorry no sympathy here.

Feb. 03 2012 10:57 AM
Amala from Washington Heights

This assault on young people, youth of color, young men of color, in poor neighborhoods has got to stop.

Feb. 03 2012 10:50 AM
john from office

Another example of the great benefit to black and latino youths of pot smoking. Let hope for more "empowerment"! and lets work really hard to make the job of the police harder, god forebid we dont get all the benefits.

Feb. 03 2012 10:45 AM
Political PoP from America =(

wow he died for some weed literally......

Feb. 03 2012 10:18 AM

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