LDF Statement on the U.S. Department of Justice's Decision Not to Convene a Grand Jury for the Police Killing of Ramarley Graham

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is profoundly disappointed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision not to convene a grand jury to consider the police shooting death of Ramarley Graham, an 18-year-old unarmed African American man. In 2012, New York City police officer Richard Haste fatally shot Mr. Graham in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother. After the shooting, Officer Haste was stripped of his badge and gun, but has since remained with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and reportedly has received almost $25,000 in pay raises over the past four years. 

A judge dismissed an initial grand jury’s indictment of Officer Haste, and a second grand jury declined to indict the officer. In 2013, the DOJ opened a criminal civil rights investigation of Officer Haste, with Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, leading the investigation. On Tuesday, however, Bharara announced that a decision was made that he believed there was insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal charges in connection with Ramarley Graham’s shooting by Officer Haste. 

“We join with the Graham family in expressing outrage and regret that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has decided not to present Officer Haste’s case to a grand jury,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel. “Such inaction will only encourage a continued lack of accountability for the killings of people of color by the police, who are meant to serve them, and is sadly indicative of the broader, nationwide problems of racially-biased policing, excessive use-of-force, and police misconduct, all of which disproportionately impact African Americans. We ask the de Blasio administration and NYPD Police Commissioner Bratton to conduct an internal investigation of the actions of Officer Haste and other police officers who were involved in the shooting death of Mr. Graham and impose appropriate disciplinary actions, including termination. We also call on city leaders to establish actionable, concrete police reforms, such as de-escalation training, anti-bias training and standardized disciplinary protocols, that, while not undoing the loss of Mr. Graham, will help build community trust and demonstrate a resolve for systemic transformation of policing in the city.”

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.