February 2, 2012
An unarmed teen in the Bronx was shot dead by police, right in front of his mother. Ramarley Graham, a 19-year old boy, was shot in the chest as he ran into his mother’s apartment on Thursday afternoon [Feb. 2]. Police are saying that they thought the teen was grabbing a gun when he adjusted his waistband.
“They chased him into the house,” his mother Constance Malcolm, 39, told the Daily News.
“Nobody deserves to be shot in their own home.”
The teen was then rushed to the Montefiore Medical Center, where died soon thereafter. Police had approached Graham when they saw him doing a drug deal on the street. That’s when he ran away to the Williamsbridge Apartment complex. The officers were behind him when he ran into the bathroom to flush the marijuana down the toilet.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says that he doesn’t believe there was a struggle before the young man was shot.
“Show me your hands! Show me your hands! Gun! Gun!” This is what Kelly says the officers yelled at Graham as they proceeded to shoot him.
“We need to continue to gather facts at this juncture,” said Kelly. “We see an unarmed person being shot. That always concerns us.
The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on restricted duty.
Now video of the pursuit has emerged which shows the police pursuing the teen, as well as them kicking in the door to gain access to the teen after he runs into the house. After police gain entry into the home, the teen was fatally shot and found to be unarmed.
Graham’s six-year-old brother and grandmother were in the home at the time he was shot and Graham’s brother is seen crying on the video [as he is taken out by police officers].
This is not the first teen shooting of the week. On Wednesday, Chicago police shot a 15-year-old autistic child who pulled out a butter knife.
Jorge Rivas of ColorLines.com adds:
The Graham shooting is the third time in a week that a member of the NYPD had killed a suspect. On Jan. 26, an off-duty police lieutenant shot a 22-year-old carjacking suspect in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. And on Sunday, an off-duty detective shot a 17-year-old in Bushwick, Brooklyn, during a mugging, authorities said.
In Graham’s case, police found a small bag of marijuana in the toilet at the home he entered after the pursuit, they claim.
“It’s likely the story will thicken and the NYPD will argue the cop acted in self defense, but right now it looks like the cops killed a kid trying to get rid of a little pot,” said Seth Freed Wessler, Colorlines.com’s investigation reporter.
“Despite directives from the NYPD Commissioner to stop arresting people for simple possession of marijuana, the NYPD actually conducted more marijuana arrests in 2011 than in the previous year,” Wessler said.
In New York City, marijuana arrests strike people of color the hardest. Last year the NYPD made a near-record number of low-level marijuana arrests, making 2011 the second-most prolific period for marijuana arrests in NYC history. Close to 87 percent of those arrested for marijuana were black or Latino, while only 10 percent were white.
“The daily practice of harassing black and Latino kids with stop and frisk policing and then arresting them for simple possession of pot would be bad enough even if it did not lead to shootings. In this case in the Bronx, it looks like the day-to-day drug war left this 18-year-old kid dead,” Wessler said.