Paul J. Browne, the New York Police Department’s chief spokesman,
said there was “no evidence that he was armed” when the officer, a
member of a narcotics unit, shot him once in the upper left chest, the New York Times reports.
The Graham shooting is the third time in a week that a member of the NYPD had killed a suspect. On Jan. 26, an off-duty police lieutenant shot a 22-year-old carjacking suspect in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. And on Sunday, an off-duty detective shot a 17-year-old in Bushwick, Brooklyn, during a mugging, authorities said.
In Graham’s case, police found a small bag of marijuana in the toilet at the home he entered after the pursuit, the NY Times reports. “It’s likely the story will thicken and the NYPD will argue the cop acted in self defense, but right now it looks like the cops killed a kid trying to get rid of a little pot,” said Seth Freed Wessler, Colorlines.com’s investigation reporter.
“Despite directives from the NYPD Commissioner to stop arresting people for simple possession of marijuana, the NYPD actually conducted more marijuana arrests in 2011 than in the previous year,” Wessler said.
In New York City, marijuana arrests strike people of color the hardest. Last year the NYPD made a near-record number of low-level marijuana arrests, making 2011 the second-most prolific period for marijuana arrests in NYC history. Close to 87 percent of those arrested for marijuana were black or Latino, while only 10 percent were white.
“The daily practice of harassing black and Latino kids with stop and frisk policing and then arresting them for simple possession of pot would be bad enough even if it did not lead to shootings. In this case in the Bronx, it looks like the day-to-day drug war left this 18-year-old kid dead,” Wessler said.