A Bronx grand jury has rejected another attempt by prosecutors to indict a police officer who shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham in his home during a drug investigation in 2012, sparking outrage Thursday from the teenager's family and calls for an independent investigation.
The original manslaughter indictment of officer Richard Haste was thrown out in May after a Bronx state court judge ruled prosecutors gave faulty instructions to the grand jury on the issue of self-defense. The judge gave permission to the prosecution to submit the case to a second grand jury, which then decided not to indict Haste.
The failure to get an indictment stunned Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, as well as Graham's family.
"We are surprised and shocked by the grand jury's finding of no criminal liability in the death of Ramarley Graham," Johnson said in a prepared statement.
In a rally outside Johnson's office, Graham's parents, as well as dozens of protesters including mayoral candidate John Liu, demanded that federal officials file civil-rights charges.
"This is a modern-day lynching," said Constance Malcolm, Graham's mother. "We are calling on [U.S. Attorney General] Eric Holder to take this case over and let Richard Haste tell us what happened when he murdered my son."
Federal prosecutors will review evidence in the case to see if there were any violations of federal criminal civil-rights laws, a U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman said Thursday.
Graham was killed Feb. 2, 2012, when he was chased by Haste and other officers during a street enforcement action against suspected drug dealing in the Wakefield section. Haste followed Graham to the teen's home and confronted the youth in the bathroom.
Attorneys for Haste said he had been told by other officers that one of the suspected dealers -- Graham among them -- was armed. During the confrontation, Haste repeatedly asked Graham to show his hands before firing the shot that killed him, attorney Stuart London said.
London said Haste, 32, testified for five hours before the second grand jury and did well.
"He was better at communicating to the grand jury this time; he wasn't quite overwhelmed and nervous," London said. "The biggest difference was his ability to let them [grand jurors] use the balancing test between him having to use force as an officer and at the same time show restraint if he [Graham] was going to acquiesce to his commands."
Haste remains on modified duty, without a shield or gun, officials said.
With Maria Alvarez and the AP