Moral Low Ground


Ramarley Graham, Unarmed Black Teen, Shot Dead by NYPD in Front of his Mother

An unarmed black teenager was shot dead in his home in front of his mother by a New York City cop.

The New York Daily News reports that officers from the NYPD’s street narcotics unit spotted 19-year-old Ramarley Graham on a street in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx on Thursday afternoon. Officers observed the young man, who was previously arrested on marijuana and burglary charges,  adjusting his waistband. Apparently that constituted probable cause to suspect he had a gun.

Another unarmed black man killed by the NYPD.

Graham fled when the officers approached. They chased him as he ran into his apartment building on E. 229th Street. The suspect entered his apartment and ran into the bathroom with two officers in pursuit. Graham then struggled with one of the cops, during which time he was shot in the chest in front of his horrified mother.

Graham turned out to be unarmed.

“They chased him into the house,” 39-year-old Constance Malcolm, Graham’s mother, told the Daily News. “Nobody deserves to be shot in their own home.”

Graham was rushed to Montefiore Medical Center, where he later died.

An NYPD source said that marijuana was found in the bathroom where Graham fled; he may have been trying to flush it down the toilet.

“The police kill him…for what?” Delmar Scott, Graham’s brother, told NY1. “Him no have a gun, not a weapon, not nothing. He smoke weed, that’s about it.”

The unnamed officer who killed Graham, as well as his supervising sergeant– both from the 47th Precinct– have been placed on modified duty pending the outcome of an investigation.

Marijuana was decriminalized in New York state in 1977, but the NYPD makes more marijuana arrests than any police force in the world. Utilizing a controversial policing technique called “stop and frisk,” NY cops stopped more than 600,000 people on the city’s streets in 2010– 85% of them black or Hispanic. Of those 600,000, more than 517,000, or 86%, were innocent.

“Stop and frisk” is believed by many to be a form of entrapment, since marijuana is only decriminalized when it is used in private. Small quantities of the drug in a person’s pocket are not a criminal offense. But police know that many citizens are unaware of their rights, and when officers ask “stop and frisk” suspects to empty their pockets and if they find small quantities of marijuana, the drug is now in public view and the “criminal” is subject to arrest.

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