Officer Surrenders in Shooting Death of Unarmed Man

James Cohen on WNYC, June 13, 2012

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An NYPD police officer has surrendered to face charges in the fatal shooting earlier this year of an unarmed suspect in a Bronx home.
Attorney Stuart London says he's been told that Officer Richard Haste will be charged with manslaughter. He had no further comment.

Haste was awaiting arraignment Wednesday in the death of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham.

Haste, 30, will face charges in the Feb. 2 death of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, who was shot dead in the bathroom of his Bronx home by police who said they followed him into the apartment because they believed he had a gun.

No weapon was found.

The indictment will be unsealed Wednesday morning. An attorney for the Graham family said Graham's parents will be there for the opening of the indictment.

Haste, who has been on the force for three years, was part of a street-level narcotics enforcement (SNEU) team, but had not yet received SNEU training or plainclothes training before the shooting.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Tuesday that changes have been implemented to the application process for the NYPD's street-level narcotics teams in the months following Graham's death.

“We did do an analysis of the special narcotics enforcement unit, the street narcotics enforcement unit, and we have made some adjustments," Kelly said, after he attended the NYPD’s annual Medal Day ceremony. "We put out a new order that quantifies the requirements that people need to meet before they go into this unit."

The incident sparked outrage among loved ones, neighbors and activists.

Law Professor Jim Cohen, who teaches at Fordham University School of Law, told WNYC earlier this year that the location of the shooting — a detail that drew the ire of the community — was a big factor in the incident.

Cohen said in certain cases when police believe a dangerous crime is being committed, officers in "hot pursuit" may enter someone's house but they must have strong circumstances to enter.

"It is not routine at all for the police to invade a home absent legitimate cause. That said, it’s also not unheard of. So I think the community has a legitimate fear for their families,” Cohen said.

Graham, known as Marley or Elmo to his friends, was known to loved ones as a jokester who adored music, animals and video games. His cousin, described him as a romantic who met his girlfriend, Jasmine, on Valentine's Day in 2008, and often walked her to school.