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Conflict & Tragedy

As we mourn Whitney let's remember Ramarley: Teen shot in his bathroom by NY cop buried same day

I know all eyes are on singer Whitney Houston's memorial service on Saturday, but another significant burial is taking place today. 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, who was shot to death in his bathroom by a New York police officer, will also be laid to rest.

Concerned and grieving neighbors, community members and family marched on Friday night in the Wakefield section of the Bronx to protest Ramarley's killing, wondering if they will ever be justice served for his death.

The teen was gunned down almost two weeks ago in the bathroom of his apartment, shockingly in the presence of his 6-year-old little brother and his grandmother.

Two NYPD officers stomped his apartment building, kicked the door in, ran up to his apartment and shot him in the chest while her was in his bathroom unarmed. The police version of events claim Ramarley was flushing marijuana down the toilet when he was shot and that the police thought he was reaching for a gun.

No gun was found. Moreover, what were the police officers doing in his home without a warrant? Why did police officer, 30-year-old Richard Haste, pull the trigger, firing the fatal shot to his chest?

Ramarley is from a poor, Black neighborhood and his funeral will go unnoticed, unlike the wall to wall coverage for Whitney Houston. I understand, she was a celebrated singer -- a phenomenal one -- but we must not lose sight that Ramarley was gunned down before he could begin to live, and all lives are precious. We might not all live equal lives but our lives should be of equal value and worth.

Scroll down for my earlier article and click on video tab above for more on what happened that fateful night two weeks ago.

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2.10.12 NYC]------A community and beyond is still reeling from the outrageous shooting death of an unarmed area teen by a New York City police officer.

Reeling, for 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was allegedly shot to death in the bathroom of his Bronx apartment last Thursday night. The above surveillance video clearly show two police officers storming the building, forcefully and repeatedly kicking down the door that led to Graham's apartment moments after the teen entered that building.

Local channel 11 WPIX television aired the stunning video where the officer went to the back of the building to gain entry, then opened the front door for the other officer.

They are seen racing up the stairs and minutes after the teenager was dead. The only other adult present in the apartment, Graham's grandmother Patricia Hartley, reportedly told the New York Times through family friend Carlton Berkley that the police broke into her apartment, rushed into the bathroom where her grandson was and shot him. His 6 year old brother was also there to witness the horror.

The distraught grandmother was then held for a reported 7 hours by police for questioning at the Precinct.

The police version of events are quite different and the 30-year-old officer, Richard Haste who shot Graham in the chest, alleged he shouted to the teen, "Gun, gun" and "show me your hands!"

Grandmother Hartley said she heard no such commands before she heard the boom of the deadly gun.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a press conference on Friday that the killing was under investigation and the two officers involved were on desk duty, not suspended.

OPINION

This senseless killing of a teen is yet another blatant act of violence by the NYPD which needs urgent review, repair and restitution. I don't care if the young man had drugs on him or if he was a career criminal, we are a country of laws not some barbaric country in the boondocks somewhere. We have a Constitution that says are all to be treated equally.

Police need a search warrant to enter our property. No one was in imminent danger and the police had no such legal permission to enter the teenager's home yet they did it anyway, guns drawn like it was high noon at the Ok Coral.

To add to the stunning injustice, they kept the traumatized grandmother for hours after they just killed her grandson in front of her. They say it was 5 hours not 7. It doesn't make a difference--the level of insensitivity is still stunning.

Though there are many hard-working good police officers, there is a climate of bias and undue violence that exists in the NYPD. People of color are routinely stopped, searched, harassed, arrested, and killed under suspicious circumstances.

I have experienced this in my own family. My son has been stopped several times because of the color of his skin. Police once asked his friend if he was alright because the friend is Asian. He automatically assumed that the other boys were up to no good and the Asian kid needed protecting. My son doesn't run the streets, sag his pants down to his knees, is not in a gang, goes to school everyday, is respectful and comes from a good home. This stereotype that all Black folks are criminals or criminals in waiting, is dangerous racial profiling.

There is a disconnect between some officers and the community they are suppose to protect and serve. Routinely, officers may not live where they work and so they patrol neighborhoods that they cannot identify with on top of having preconceived bias of what "those" people are like. This is not true of all NYPD officers but definitely some.

It doesn't matter what your socio-economic background is, some cops will harass you just because they can. This needs to stop, for it can escalate into the kind of deadly violence that killed Graham on East 229 St. in the Wakefield section of the Bronx last Thursday night.