New York City settles with family of slain black teen for $3.9 million

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 31, 2015 12:22 AM

(Reuters) - New York City has settled with the family of an unarmed black teen fatally shot by police in 2012, agreeing to pay $3.9 million, officials said on Friday.

Ramarley Graham, 18, was shot dead on Feb. 2, 2012 inside the bathroom of his Bronx apartment after being followed by police officers who said they believed he was carrying a gun.

"This was a tragic case," New York City Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci said in an email.

"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," he added.

The officer, Richard Haste, was indicted for the fatal shooting in June 2012. Police said several officers who had seen Graham on the street - including Haste - suspected he had a gun because of the way he moved his hands near his waist.

Haste and a partner followed Graham to his apartment building and kicked down his apartment door. Haste shot Graham in the chest in a bathroom, police said.

In May 2013, a judge dismissed the charges, ruling that prosecutors gave the grand jury improper instructions.

The New York Daily News reported that a second grand jury later decided against re-indicting Haste. A federal probe of the shooting by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office is ongoing, the paper reported.

New York City's settlement with the Graham family ends a federal lawsuit filed over the killing.

The Law Department said $2.95 million will go to Graham's estate, while Graham's brother will receive $500,000, his grandmother will get $450,000, and his mother will receive $40,000.

The settlement comes a day after the girlfriend of another unarmed black teen shot dead by a police officer notified officials that she plans to file a $50 million lawsuit against the city.

The fatal shooting of 28-year-old Akai Gurley in a dark stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project last November was among a string of incidents that fueled widespread protests over what critics say is a pattern of police brutality toward minority groups.

Gurley's funeral was held in December amid angry demonstrations in New York City days after a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, in the chokehold death of another unarmed black man, Eric Garner, on Staten Island.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Richard Borsuk)