Once again, New York City has decided to pay cash to the family of a Black man killed by police—this time a $3.9 million settlement to the family of Ramarley Graham, an 18-year-old Bronx teen shot to death by a white police officer in 2012 under highly questionable circumstances.
Richard Haste, the officer who killed Graham, never went to trial for the killing, and Graham’s name has been frequently cited by protesters during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations that have raged across the country after a spate of police-involved killings in which officers were not indicted.
In the Graham case, Haste was initially indicted, but a judge threw out the charges because he said prosecutors improperly instructed grand jurors. A second grand jury declined to indict the officer.
Federal civil rights lawsuits have become the option of last resort by families seeking justice.
“This was a tragic case,” said New York Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci when the settlement was announced on Friday. “After evaluating all the facts, and consulting with key stakeholders such as the NYPD, it was determined that settling the matter was in the best interest of the city.”
Haste killed Graham in 2012 with one shot to the chest in a tiny bathroom in the three-family Bronx home where he lived with his grandmother and other relatives. Haste said he thought the teen was going to shoot him, but no weapons were found in the apartment.
The Graham settlement is the latest in a recent string of high-profile cases that New York has settled under Mayor Bill de Blasio after law enforcement-involved killings.
There was a $41 million settlement with the “Central Park Five,” who were wrongfully convicted in the 1989 rape and beating of a Central Park jogger; a $10 million settlement with a Brooklyn man who spent 15 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of killing a rabbi, and a $2.75 million settlement with the family of a city jail inmate who died after what his lawyers described as a beating in which jail officers kicked him in the head.
All of the men in these cases were African-American or, in the case of one of the Central Park Five, Afro-Latino.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer recently said he would try to negotiate a settlement in the $75 million civil rights claim brought by Eric Garner’s family.