NEW YORK – A New York Police Department officer has been indicted in the shooting in February of an unarmed man who was pursued into his Bronx home amid a crackdown on street corner drug dealing, according to a law enforcement official.
Officer Richard Haste, 30, is to surrender Wednesday morning to face manslaughter charges in the death of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because the indictment hadn't been made public.
The NYPD declined to comment. Prosecutors in the Bronx also refused to discuss the outcome of a lengthy investigation; Haste testified before the grand jury for three hours.
The officer's lawyer, Stuart London, said Tuesday he would reserve comment until any indictment is unsealed.
The shooting stemmed from an NYPD investigation of a persistent drug trade in the Bronx neighborhood where Graham lived. At the time, police said an observation team identified Graham as a potential suspect and radioed to other officers that he appeared to be armed with a pistol.
A civilian witness told police that around the same time, two police officers in plain clothes but wearing NYPD raid jackets pulled up and yelled at a man — apparently Graham — "Police! Don't move!" After the man ducked into Graham's three-family home, the officers found a back entrance, climbed some stairs and broke down the door to a second-floor apartment where Graham lived with his grandmother and other family, police said.
An officer positioned behind the shooter reported seeing Graham run toward a bathroom, possibly to flush away some marijuana. He also heard Haste yell, "Show me your hands!" and "Gun! Gun!" before a shot rang out, police said.
Haste fired one shot at close range from his 9mm semiautomatic handgun, police said. The victim was struck in the upper chest and collapsed inside the bathroom, as his grandmother and 6-year-old brother stood nearby. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
A search of the apartment failed to turn up any weapons.
The shooting has sparked anti-NYPD protests by supporters of the Graham family who called it a clear case of excessive force. A statement Monday by the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network said a Bronx jury should be able to decide the officer's fate.
"While no one takes any pleasure in a life loss or a police officer being indicted, we always demand that the process of justice be fairly and impartially administered," the statement said. "We will continue to stand with Ramarley Graham's parents during the difficult days ahead."