"No parent should ever have to bury and survive their child, particularly before their 19th birthday. It is particularly difficult when that life is taken by a grave injustice.
My son Ramarley was unjustifiably shot and killed in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother in our home by a NYPD officer.
Ramarley had no weapon, posed no threat, and should have been safe.
But NYPD officer Richard Haste unlawfully entered our home and recklessly drew and fired his weapon on my unarmed son, changing the dynamic of our family forever.
It is critical that Ramarley’s murder not be in vain and without justice.
We expect our police department to serve and protect us, but that didn’t happen on that February day two years ago.
Worse is that after two grand juries convened by the Bronx District Attorney’s office and two years later, we have still not received justice and there has been no accountability.
Now, it is up to the U.S. Justice Department to live up to its mission and provide some measure of justice for Ramarley, our family and our city.
Sadly, what our family has been going through is not unique.
Dozens of families in New York City over the past two decades have unjustly lost loved ones to police shootings and violence. Most have not received justice.
The lives of Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, and so many other New Yorkers like Ramarley — primarily Black and Latino — have not been honored by our justice system.
When defenders of abusive stop-and-frisk police practices claimed the NYPD already had sufficient oversight and mechanisms of accountability by citing district attorneys and other entities, it always struck me as disingenuous given the consistent failures to hold officers accountable for recklessly taking the lives of so many unarmed New Yorkers.
While I hope the federal court’s stop-and-frisk reform process will begin soon now that the de Blasio administration has agreed to drop the Bloomberg-era appeal, this new administration should also take serious steps to ensure there is accountability and zero tolerance for unjust police violence against New Yorkers. That would provide some amount of justice to the many families that have experienced similar tragedies and help prevent any more from suffering in the future.
For our family, justice must be served by the U.S. Department of Justice because of the failures of our local system.
And while no federal charges or court ruling will ever bring Ramarley back, justice can help provide some level of confidence in our system and the concept of right and wrong.
I was unable to celebrate my son’s last three birthdays with him, but I need to know that our government and legal system serves justice and cares equally about the lives of all people.
That is not clear so far.
As a mother, I maintain optimism that we will see justice for Ramarley.
I will continue to fight for it and remind those in decision-making positions and the larger public: What if it were your child, or sibling?
No mother, parent or family should ever have to go through this.”
Constance Malcolm is the mother of Ramarley Graham, who was shot and killed by a NYPD officer in the family’s Bronx home in February 2012 despite being unarmed.