Richard Haste, the 31-year-old New York City Police officer indicted in the shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old in the victim’s Bronx home, pled not guilty to charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter on Wednesday.
After turning himself in to the Bronx district attorney’s office, Haste appeared in State Supreme Court along with other officers and the victim’s relatives and supporters. According to the New York Times, Haste’s lawyer, Stuart London, argued that his client had “no choice” but to shoot Ramarley Graham, whom Haste followed on a drug pursuit on February 2 as part of a street narcotics unit. London claimed that Haste had heard from other officers that Graham was armed and fired in self defense when the teen appeared to reach for his waistband.
“ ‘I thought he was going to kill me, so I shot him,’ ” read London from a statement by Haste after the incident.
The Times reported that Robert T. Johnson, the Bronx district attorney, did not think the shooting was justified. “There’s a major difference between exercising caution and pulling the trigger and using deadly force,” he said after the hearing. The Huffington Post reported that he also said, “[Haste] had to know that he did not see a gun.”
About a dozen supporters of Graham’s family gathered outside the courthouse in protest of police aggression, according to the Times. They chanted, “NYPD, KKK, how many kids did you kill today?”
Police union president Patrick Lynch, meanwhile, stood by Haste. “Today, we’re here to show support for a New York City police officer who was put in a terrible position doing a difficult job,” he told the Huffington Post.
Haste was released after posting $50,000 bail.
– Paul Bisceglio
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