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Manslaughter indictment against cop tossed

Police officers and supporters clap as Officer Richard

Police officers and supporters clap as Officer Richard Haste exits the courthouse after posting bail in New York. Haste has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges in the February shooting of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham inside his home. (June 13, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

A manslaughter indictment against an NYPD officer in the killing of an unarmed Bronx man was thrown out Wednesday after a judge ruled that warnings from the cop's partners that the victim may have had a gun was kept from a grand jury.

Officer Richard Haste told the grand jury he believed Ramarley Graham, 18, was armed when he chased him into the bathroom of his home on Feb. 2, 2012, and opened fire. Police said no gun was ever found.

Graham's mother erupted in anger in the Bronx courtroom after State Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett found that prosecutors in the Bronx district attorney's office committed the error.

"In effect, the grand jury was told by both omission and commission that the communications by other officers to Officer Haste wasn't to be considered . . . that was in error," Barrett said.

Prosecutors can resubmit the case to the grand jury with the proper instructions about Graham's fatal encounter with Haste, 31, during a drug investigation, Barrett said.

Graham's family vowed to protest the ruling.

"I am angry and cannot express my feelings" alone, Graham's mother, Constance Malcolm said in a prepared statement outside the court. "I am ready to take it to the streets and the highest of the highest. Please be prepared for a major protest."

In court papers, prosecutors said that during the chase, some of Haste's partners had radioed him that Graham may have had a gun.

Prosecutors had argued in court that the grand jury was instructed to consider the key information about the shooting: that Haste believed Graham had a gun, not what officers radioed to the officer. That was an incorrect instruction, Barrett ruled.

In a statement, the Bronx district attorney's office said it was weighing its options for either appealing Barrett's decision or going back to the grand jury for a new indictment.

"It cannot be said more forcefully that we disagree with the court," said an office spokesman.

Graham's father, Frank Graham, said the family is prepared to challenge Barrett's ruling.

"If it means going back to the grand jury or if we have to ask the federal court to deal with this case, we are going to keep fighting no matter what," Graham said in a statement.

An NYPD spokesman said Wednesday that Haste remained on modified duty status, meaning he is not carrying a weapon.

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