By Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times –
NEW YORK — In a protest reminiscent of those surrounding the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida, marchers in New York City held a demonstration to demand the arrest of a New York police officer for fatally shooting an unarmed teenager after chasing him into his family’s apartment.
The march Thursday night in the Bronx, where 18-year-old Ramarley Graham lived, was the latest rally in what protesters say will be a relentless campaign on behalf of the teenager. “We will get justice, because I’m not going to stop. A mother never lays down,” Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm, told the crowd.
A grand jury will decide whether to file charges in the Feb. 2 shooting of Graham, who was killed in the apartment’s bathroom. His grandmother and 6-year-old brother were in the apartment at the time. Graham had gone inside after being pursued by police, who said they suspected him of carrying drugs and of being armed. A bag of marijuana was found in the bathroom.
Surveillance videos from the police officers’ pursuit showed Graham walking into the building, then police officers running up to the door and trying to kick it down. Eventually, they entered the apartment, ran upstairs and found Graham. One of them shot him once in the chest.
The shooting prompted angry protests that drew attention from activists such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has also led marches in Sanford, Fla., to protest the shooting death there on Feb. 26 of Martin. Martin was unarmed when he was killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain. Zimmerman, who hasn’t been arrested, told police he acted in self-defense.
The officers involved in Graham’s shooting initially said they fired in self-defense, but his grandmother denied that Graham attacked the officers. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has put the officer who shot Graham, Richard Haste, on modified duties pending the outcome of an investigation. Haste also was stripped of his gun and badge, as was a second officer who pursued Graham, Sgt. Scott Morris.
Hundreds of people attended Graham’s funeral in February, and rallies held after his death attracted local lawmakers, as well as William Bell, the father of another unarmed man shot to death by police, Sean Bell. Last week, Kelly fired four police officers involved in Bell’s 2006 shooting after the department concluded they had acted improperly when they opened fire on him the night before his wedding.