Anger in New York Over Police Immunity in Shootings

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NEW YORK - Ramarley Graham, 19, was the latest victim of police violence in The Bronx. An undercover narcotics officer shot the youth at point-blank range in the bathroom of his home early this month in front of his grandmother and six-year-old brother. Police allegedly held the grandmother for seven hours after the shooting.

The officer involved in the shooting and his supervisor were stripped of their service revolvers, badges and placed on administrative duty. These acts haven’t dulled a seething anger found in neighborhood demonstrations and in other parts of the city. New York Police Dept. handling of the shooting, with Police Commissioner Raymond Kelley changing the official version of the shooting several times, has only increased frustration and rage. The commissioner first told the press the young victim had a gun, but the story changed quickly because no gun was found.

Police now say a street narcotics unit near a convenience store radioed after seeing the butt of a gun in the youth’s waistband. The accused police officer allegedly kicked in the door without a warrant, in pursuit of the teenager. The commissioner admitted to the New York Daily News there had not been a struggle between Mr. Graham and the officer as earlier reported.

The police are sticking to the story that young Graham was attempting to flush marijuana down the toilet.

The community is demanding justice, and asking for a special prosecutor, saying they have lost faith in Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson’s willingness to indict police officers for murdering youth, said anti-police brutality activist Juanita Young.

“There is a pattern of killings and abuse against the people who have been holding back, but now are speaking out,” Ms. Young added.

Ms. Young told The Final Call she understands “firsthand” the anguish of having a child killed by a police officer’s bullet and then having the police department treat you with disdain. Her son Malcolm Ferguson, 23, died in March 2000, killed by a bullet fired at point blank range by an undercover narcotics officer in the stairwell of a building.

Police said there was a scuffle and the officer’s gun discharged but Ms. Young said her son was shot in the back of the head, launching her 12-year participation in the anti-police brutality movement.

“People want to get involved in a real movement to change the paradigm of police immunity,” she said. “One of the things people are talking about is a political movement, the need to take these issues to the ballot box. And I believe if there was an election tomorrow District Attorney Johnson would be voted out.”

Read the full story at The Final Call.