A police officer was arraigned on manslaughter charges on Wednesday in the shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old man of Jamaican heritage, who was followed by the police to his home in the Bronx, and then was killed by a single police bullet in his bathroom.
Appearing in State Supreme Court in the Bronx, the officer, Richard Haste, pleaded not guilty to charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter; bail was set at $50,000.
Before a courtroom filled with police officers as well as relatives of the dead man, Ramarley Graham, Officer Haste entered through a side door, wearing a black suit and using crutches.
Stuart London, a defense lawyer for Officer Haste, portrayed his client as a product of the Bronx, a graduate of Lehman High School, an armed services veteran and a New York City police officer for four years. Mr. London said that when Officer Haste “woke up that morning, he had no intention of firing his weapon.”
Donald Levin, a senior prosecutor in the Bronx district attorney’s office, requested $75,000 bail, saying in court that the officer “consciously and deliberately pulled the trigger.” The officer’s lawyers asked that he be released on his own recognizance, stressing that there was no threat of Officer Haste missing a court appearance.
The shooting of Mr. Graham has become a flash point in the roiling debate over police aggression; his family has taken part in several vigils and rallies to press for criminal charges in the case, as well as highlight what some critics say is a bias shown by the police against young men of color.
Officer’s Haste indictment is the first of a New York City police officer on a charge stemming from an on-duty shooting since three detectives were charged in March 2007 in the death of Sean Bell, an unarmed man who was shot as he left a strip club hours before he was to be wed. The detectives were later acquitted. Another officer, Rafael Lora, was indicted in December 2007 for an off-duty shooting in the Bronx that killed the driver of a minivan; his conviction at trial on manslaughter charges was overturned by an appeals court.