Ramarley Graham’s parents held a memorial at the Bronx’s Crawford Memorial United Methodist Church Monday evening. The day marked three years since officers killed the unarmed teen in his home.
The event also came days after the city awarded the Graham family a $3.9 million settlement in a civil lawsuit they filed seeking damages from his shooting. However, Franclot Graham (pictured right), Constance Malcolm (pictured), and their attorneys made it clear at a press conference before the event that money isn’t their prime objective.
“The civil settlement is only one facet of bringing some type of closure to this tragic incident, that should not have occurred,” said Royce Russell, one of the family’s two attorneys. Russell added that the main goal remains getting the Department of Justice to indict Officer Richard Haste – who fired the fatal shot — along with the other officers involved in addition to “reforming how the police do their job.”
“Who was the officer who claims that he saw Ramarley Graham with a gun in his waistband that he didn’t have?” added Jeffrey Emdin, the family’s second attorney, aiming the question at the DOJ. “Who was the officer who claimed that Ramarley Graham was running inside his home, which the videotape shows is not the case? The family wants and deserves the answers.”
“The settlement is one point, but as we said from Day 1, it was never about the money,” Graham said. “We would give everything back to have Ramarley here with us. What is justice for me? All [the] officers being held accountable for their actions.”
“A settlement will never take away the lifetime of pain that this caused me,” said Malcolm. “What will take away the pain — it wouldn’t take away the pain, but cushion it — is to see Richard Haste get fired and let the Department of Justice come in and prosecute to the fullest.”
Watch part of the family’s press conference here:
The memorial itself featured dance numbers, songs, and spoken word tributes to Ramarley, from groups including Raise Up Dance Ministries, New Day Worship Team, and the Peace Poets. Spoken word artist NeNe Ali also crafted her own tribute to Graham (which you can see a snippet of here).
Families United 4 Justice, an organization made up of families of police victims, also presented Malcolm with a check for about $200 to help care for son Chinnor. Originally, the group raised more than $1,400 to split among six families, including Akai Gurley’s, Shantel Davis’ and Eric Garner’s.
Malcolm was a crucial part of the group’s recruitment efforts, helping create their Facebook page and doing PR work for them.
“There’s no words that I could say about how much I appreciate ya’ll being here,” Malcolm said shortly after receiving the check. ‘This city gave me a lifetime of pain, but I got friends — I got a lifetime of friends here today. And I wanna thank you.”
“I wanna say thanks to all the different organizations that have helped us so far,” Graham said just before the service wrapped up. “By you coming out, you give us more vibes, more energy to keep this fight going. We will not stop until we get justice, until every member of that team is brought to justice.”
The 18-year-old Graham was standing outside a bodega in the boro’s Wakefield area in February 2012. Officers Richard Haste, Andrew Jarvis, Tyrone Horne, and Sergeant Scott Morris were performing an undercover stakeout of the store, a known drug spot. Haste claimed he saw Graham, fidgeting with what appeared to be a gun, before following him in to his nearby house.
Haste fatally shot the teen in his bathroom minutes later.
Though a jury indicted him on manslaughter charges months later, a judge threw the decision out, claiming the prosecutor mislead the grand jury. A second grand jury failed to re-indict Haste.