The NYPD is expected to formally discipline NYPD Officer Richard Haste sometime this month.
Haste was tried on departmental charges in January in the shooting death of Ramarley Graham, an unarmed black Bronx teenager. Haste, who is white, pursued Graham into the teen’s apartment and shot him in February 2012. No weapon was found.
Police sources have said Mayor Bill de Blasio told former then-Commissioner Bill Bratton, who retired in 2016, that he wanted Haste fired. James O’Neill, who replaced Bratton, has mostly adhered to de Blasio’s wishes.
A Bronx grand jury charged Haste with manslaughter in June 2012, but a judge dismissed the count, saying prosecutors improperly instructed jurors. A second grand jury voted not to indict in 2013. The Justice Department has cleared him of any federal charges.
A firearms discharge report by then-Chief of Department Philip Banks — which was rejected by Bratton — placed the major burden of guilt on Sgt. Scott Morris. Banks said Morris should have stopped Haste from rushing into the building without backup.
But how will the NYPD communicate its verdict? For decades, the NYPD made public the verdicts of internal trials, which are public. But last year, Larry Byrne, the NYPD deputy commissioner for legal matters, determined that releasing the information violated a 1976 state law known as 50-a. Byrne said the law prohibits the release of information about an officer’s disciplinary record.
Bratton went along with Byrne. So did de Blasio, who had the city appeal a state court decision calling for the release of the records. O’Neill has gone along with de Blasio.
NYPD officials say they will inform the Graham family of a ruling. But if the NYPD does that, it would go against Byrne’s interpretation of 50-a.
Meanwhile, the Graham family settled a suit against the city for $3.9 million. Ramarley’s mother, Constance Malcolm, said last week that she had been given a “blanket denial” of information she sought about the case through a Freedom of Information Law request.
The request includes the status of Morris and two other cops at the scene of the shooting, as well as what Malcolm said is information about the seven-hour detention of her mother, who was in the apartment when Ramarley was shot.