Clergy Want Answers in Death of Unarmed Bronx Man - NBC New York

Clergy Want Answers in Death of Unarmed Bronx Man

Ramarley Graham was shot and killed in his bathroom on Feb. 2.



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    A vigil was held last week for Ramarley Graham, the Bronx teen shot and killed by police.

    A group of clergy, including civil rights activist Al Sharpton, demanded Monday that the police department reveal the names of the officers who broke into a home and killed an unarmed teenager during a drug investigation.

    Youths in the black community "are being killed by the people who are supposed to protect them," the Rev. Herbert Daughtry said. "A young man in his own home is blown away in the bathroom."

    He and other leaders held a news conference in front of the Bronx district attorney's office to seek what Sharpton called "a public exposure of the process" — the investigation into the shooting.

    They were joined by the dead teenager's father and grandmother.

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    Ramarley Graham, 18, was fatally shot on Feb. 2 in the apartment he shared with his mother and grandmother, during a police drug probe of their largely Caribbean neighborhood of Williamsbridge.

    Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has ordered a review of the street narcotics division following the shooting. Sharpton also demanded a federal probe.

    The Baptist minister said a code of silence has surrounded the case.

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    "This code of silence must be broken, so we are prepared to do what is necessary to escalate the dialogue," Sharpton said. "The city has to deal with this death."

    Police said they believed Graham had a gun because when they encountered him on the street, he was adjusting his waistband. Authorities said that when the officers approached him, he started running toward his house.

    They entered after breaking down a door and confronting Graham in the bathroom. Police said a bag of marijuana was found in the toilet, suggesting he was trying to flush it away. One of the officers fired, hitting the teen in the chest.

    An officer and his sergeant are on desk duty while the district attorney weighs whether to charge them. The New York Police Department hasn't yet released their names.

    The clergy and Graham's family are calling for an indictment against the 30-year-old officer who fired.

    "We want to know who these officers are," Sharpton said, adding that they also want to know whether they've been involved in any other shootings.

    He said: "This case is the case that will determine the future of this city."

    It was third time in a week that police had fatally shot a suspect. On Jan. 26, an off-duty NYPD officer killed a carjacking suspect during a shootout in Brooklyn. On Jan. 29, an off-duty detective shot a 17-year-old after police say the teen and another suspect hit the officer with a cane and tried to rob him while he was walking to catch a subway. Neither officer was put on restricted duty.

    Officers have also been shot. Officer Peter Figoski was shot to death after a botched robbery in Brooklyn in December, and Officer Kevin Brennan was fired on at point-blank range during a struggle Feb. 2 and was shot in the head. He survived and was released from the hospital Friday. A 21-year-old, Jose Ortiz, has pleaded not guilty in Brennan's shooting. Lamont Pride and four others have pleaded not guilty in the shooting of Figoski.

    The news conference was held on the street near the district attorney's office, in a predominantly black neighborhood a short walk from Yankee Stadium.

    "Yankee Stadium looks great, but black people are still being killed nearby," said the Rev. Conrad Tillard, of the Nazarene Congregational Church in Brooklyn's Bedford Stuyvesant area.

    "We are fearful for the African-American young men in our community," added the Rev. Michael Walrond, pastor of Harlem's First Corinthian Baptist Church.

    District Attorney Robert Johson's office was closed Monday in observance of President's Day, and he and his staff could not be reached for comment.