The murder of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham in Brooklyn last Friday was the third time that week that a member of the New York Police Department shot a citizen. It now seems likely that that the Graham shooting will be the incident with the most controversial teeth. After all, the teenager was murdered in his Grandmother’s bathroom, and the Grandmother and Graham’s six-year-old brother were in the apartment at the time.
And not only is the initial story — that Graham struggled with police before he was shot — already falling apart (even Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has admitted this) but some newly-released surveillance footage of Graham and the police on his trail makes the NYPD look very bad indeed, and more like the police death squads some have accused them of being.
(Though maybe not, thanks to Kentucky vs. King which upheld the right of police to kick down a door if they smelled marijuana; Justice Samuel Alito took the stance that if someone bars police entry on Constitutional grounds that’s legal, but if they instead attempt to destroy evidence (making sounds to suggest they are doing that), a warrant-less home invasion is justified. Does the legality of entry also depend on how whether the drugs were visible during the alleged buy? Or the threat of Graham’s non-existent gun which cops twice lied about over the radio? I don’t know, but I would be interested to see what brainier, more legal-minded people have to say.)
The footage below shows Graham returning home at a walk police had initially said he was running from them. Two police officers are several seconds behind him, but they’re running. Graham goes inside and then the cops spend several minutes trying to kick down the front door. They finally move to the back where they successfully broke into the apartment. Below is a New York 1 news report on the footage, and a WPIX report with clearer picture.
Residents of the apartment said that police didn’t identify themselves, you can also understand some disorientation or confusion over the identity of two gun-toting people who just broke down your back door. Graham definitely was in the bathroom when he was murdered, allegedly trying to flush a dime bag of cannabis. As mentioned, even Commissioner Kelly is backing away from the allegations that there was a scuffle. The officer who murdered Graham, as well as his Sergeant has nothing to fear, they are both now on restricted leave (desk duty) in their air-conditioned offices. Again, no gun was found on Graham, or in the apartment.
The New York newspaper reported that NYPD Commissioner Kelly’s verdict is promisingly not-100 percent in support of the police. He said at a press conference that “the evidence will be presented to a grand jury” and “At this juncture, we see an unarmed person being shot. That always concerns us.”
Further showing the brutality of what happened are revelations about how poorly Graham’s Grandmother was treated by police. She was held for seven hours and denied access to her heart medication.