Ramarley Graham's Mother Speaks Out: NYPD Cop Who Killed My Son Should Be Charged With Murder
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AMY GOODMAN: Today, a Democracy Now! special on the life and death of Ramarley Graham, a teenager who was shot dead by a New York police officer inside his own bathroom in the Bronx. His death occurred on February 2nd, three weeks before Trayvon Martin was shot dead in Florida by George Zimmerman, the self-appointed night watchman. Trayvon was 17 years old, Ramarley 18. While Trayvon Martin’s death gained international attention, the Ramarley Graham killing received far less attention.
Police initially said Graham ran into his building fleeing from officers, but surveillance footage showed this to be untrue. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly initially said Graham, quote, "appeared to be armed," but no weapon was ever recovered. Ramarley’s grandmother and six-year-old brother were inside the apartment at the time the police killed him.
Last week, a New York police officer was indicted on manslaughter charges for the fatal shooting. The officer, Richard Haste, pleaded not guilty to charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter in a Bronx courtroom. He was released on $50,000 bail.
Last Thursday, Democracy Now! covered a vigil held by the Graham family outside their home in the Bronx. I spoke to Ramarley’s older sister, Leona Virgo. I began by asking her to describe her brother Ramarley.
LEONA VIRGO: Marley was very different from the other brothers. He was into slow jams. He knew how to cook. He taught me some things about cooking. Everybody knows that I’m not a cooker, but Marley is. He even showed me how to make milkshakes and just like little weird things that people wouldn’t really do at home.
When we were younger, we used to always get in trouble. We was always doing something, if it wasn’t me bothering him, provoking him to do certain things, and us getting in trouble by our mother. And there always was laughs after, always jokes. We played a lot of video games together coming up. Our favorite was Halo for the Xbox. And even before the Xbox, there was Super Nintendo, and it was Mario Brothers.
So, we did a lot of, you know, sister and brother activities. My momma’s fun was our fun. Wherever she went, we were right there with her, tagging along. Even when I would go to the courts, he was right there tagging along. Even though he didn’t know how to play basketball, he wanted to be around me and just catch on to the game.
Yeah, so, something like this that’s going on, it’s like really hard, because, you know, I actually grew up with him. We grew up—we lived in the same house. So it’s really weird at times not to see the person that you grew up with at the house with you. It does get lonely, because, you know, that’s—he’s like my protector, like, you know, in arm’s length. I do have other brothers, but, you know, arm’s length, that’s my protector. You know, if anything was wrong, he was always checking on me.
AMY GOODMAN: But he’s your little brother. He’s four years younger.
LEONA VIRGO: He’s my little—four years younger, but he, at times, seemed like an older brother. Like, even though he’s my little brother, I always called him my older brother. That’s just how he was. He was very, you know, mature for his age. And a lot of people realized that, you know, the more they was around him. He used to really amaze me how observant he was. Like, I secretly idolized him. I never told him, you know, when he was alive, and I wish I would have told him. You know, things happen, so...