Shooting of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.

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Shooting of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.
Victim of shooting, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.
Victim of shooting, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.
Time 05:00 EST (10:00 UTC)
Date November 19, 2011 (2011-11-19)
Location Winbrook Public Housing
135 S Lexington Ave
White Plains, NY 10601 U.S.
Coordinates 41°01′39″N 73°46′24″W / 41.0274052°N 73.7734441°W / 41.0274052; -73.7734441Coordinates: 41°01′39″N 73°46′24″W / 41.0274052°N 73.7734441°W / 41.0274052; -73.7734441
Cause Gun-shot wounds
Participants Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., Several police officers, Medical alert operator, Sister of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.
Deaths 1
Charges None; no indictment by grand jury

Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. was fatally shot on November 19, 2011, in White Plains, New York.[1][2] After his LifeAid medical alert necklace was inadvertently triggered,[3][4][5][6] police came to his home and demanded that he open his front door. Despite his objections and statements that he did not need help, the police broke down Chamberlain's door, tasered him, and then shot him dead. Chamberlain was a 68-year-old, African-American, retired Marine, and a 20-year veteran of the Westchester County Department of Corrections. He wore the medical alert bracelet due to a chronic heart problem.[7]

The incident[edit]

At approximately 5:00 a.m., on November 19, 2011, Chamberlain was at home in the Winbrook Public Housing[8][9] at 135 S. Lexington Avenue[10] in White Plains, New York. His LifeAid medical alert necklace was triggered, sending an alert to a LifeAid customer service operator, who in turn called the City of White Plains Department of Public Safety.

In response, police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians were dispatched. At Chamberlain's home, police knocked on his door. Chamberlain told them through the door, he did not call them, did not require assistance, was not having a medical emergency, and asked them to leave.[4] Police refused to leave his home, and insisted that Chamberlain open the door. Throughout the entire incident, an audio recording was made by a LifeAid device in the home. The police became more insistent, and began banging on the door. Chamberlain then contacted the LifeAid operator asking them for help. He stated that the White Plains Police employees were going to enter his home and kill him. The police continued to bang on the door, and then attempted to force it open for approximately one hour. During that time, officer Steven Hart swore at him and called him a "nigger".[11][12]

Upon breaking down his door, they entered Chamberlain's apartment. Police alleged Chamberlain came at them with a butcher knife when they broke down the door.[13] Chamberlain's family claims the elderly Chamberlain was unarmed, and did not resist. Police tased him, and then shot him with a bean bag round fired from a shotgun.[14] Chamberlain allegedly continued to charge at officers with the knife when Officer Anthony Carelli (whose name was withheld for over four months after the incident)[15] shot him twice[16][17] in the chest with live ammunition.[18][19] A camera mounted on the taser captured the tasing, but was not functioning during the shooting.[11] Chamberlain later died in surgery at White Plains Hospital.[9]

Autopsy[edit]

An autopsy conducted on November 21, 2012, revealed that one bullet hit Chamberlain sideways, passing through his right arm and then both lungs. The other bullet seems to have missed. The autopsy, performed by Westchester County Chief Medical Examiner Kunjlata Ashar, also revealed taser burns on Chamberlain's neck and abdomen.[20] Chamberlain's blood contained alcohol content of 0.11, and the muscle-relaxant cyclobenzaprine. The autopsy found "no drugs of abuse" in Chamberlain's system.[10]

Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. responded, "I'm glad the autopsy is out and shows that my father's hands were at his sides. It absolutely shows that my father wasn't the aggressor and that deadly force was not necessary."[10]

Consequences[edit]

Grand jury[edit]

In 2012, a grand jury reviewed the case and decided that no criminal charge would be made against police officers involved in the killing.[21][22] Because grand jury proceedings are secret in New York, the details of the case presented to this body are not known. Lawyers for the family suggest that the case may have been presented in a misleading or ineffective way and are therefore seeking other legal recourses, such as requesting a federal investigation.

On July 2, 2012, a civil suit for $21 million was filed by the victim's son, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., against the City of White Plains and the White Plains Police Department.[23] In November 2012, the Chamberlain family amended their lawsuit to require the city to modify police procedures with the mentally ill.

Police department review[edit]

In May 2012, White Plains mayor Thomas Roach announced that he will bring in "outside experts to do a broad review of" policy for the city's police department.[24] The commission's chair will be Dr. Maria Haberfeld, a political science professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the academic coordinator for New York's Executive Police Institute.[25][26]

Federal investigation[edit]

US Attorney Preet Bharara has announced that his office will investigate whether federal civil rights law was violated.[19][27]

Petition[edit]

An online petition was created by the son of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. By April 6, 2012, it had received nearly 199,900 signatures. It asks for an end to police misconduct and brutality, and for the officers involved to be indicted and charged with murder and civil rights violations. The petition will be delivered to the County District Attorney for Westchester, Janet DiFiore.[28]

Chamberlain Jr. said he was inspired by the petition circulated online by the parents of shooting victim Trayvon Martin, saying, "I signed Trayvon's petition, sat back and thought, 'Well, maybe I should do a petition.'" As of May 3, 2012, the petition has received at least 208,000 signatures.[29]

Accusations of racism[edit]

Accusations of racism have been leveled at both the police officers involved, and at law enforcement and justice systems that were reluctant to react. Chamberlain's son, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., discussed both issues with lawyer Mayo Bartlett on Democracy Now, highlighting the absurdity of police shooting a person they were summoned to help, as well as the unusual delay in the grand jury investigation.[30] Chamberlain Jr. said "I wasn't trying to turn this into any type of racially motivated killing, until we heard the audio"—in particular, Hart's use of the word "nigger."[11] On February 15, 2012, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. said his lawyers had filed a notice of claim informing the city, White Plains Public Safety Department, and White Plains Housing Authority to expect the wrongful death lawsuit.[31]

Chamberlain's death is one of many police killings of unarmed African Americans protested by the Black Lives Matter movement.[32]

White Plains Police Department[edit]

Lawyer Mayo Bartlett points out that the White Plains police system wrote their reports to cover up racism and wrongdoing by the officers. Their transcript of the incident omitted Hart's use of the word "nigger," as well as the information that the original call had been for a medical emergency.[11] Public Safety Commissioner David Chong said in a May 3, 2012 statement that the Police Department would conduct an internal review of the incident and fully cooperate with an independent study to be done by a panel of experts to review the department's policies and procedures and recommend any improvements.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. Killing: DA Will Present Cops' Shooting Of Former Marine To Grand Jury". The Huffington Post. 4 April 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Hoffer, Jim (15 February 2012). "Deadly Police Shooting" (Video). WABC-TV New York. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  3. ^ theGrio (4 May 2012). "Kenneth Chamberlain's shooter cleared of all charges". theGrio. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Arce, Rose; O'Brien, Soledad (4 May 2012). "Police officer cleared in shooting death of ailing veteran in New York". CNN. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Coscarelli, Joe. "White Plains Police Cleared in Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain". New York. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Hoffer, Jim (19 April 2012). "Medical alert device records police shooting". WABC-TV New York. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  7. ^ Powell, Michael (5 March 2012). "Fatal Shooting of Ex-Marine by White Plains Police Raises Questions". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  8. ^ Trangle, Sarina (2 April 2012). "DA Will Present White Plains' Chamberlain Shooting to Grand Jury". White Plains Daily Voice. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Gonzalez, Juan (4 April 2012). "Marine veteran Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. killed after clash with police who responded to his medical emergency". New York Daily News. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c Liebson, Richard (11 April 2012). "Kenneth Chamberlain autopsy contradicts police, family lawyer says". The Journal News. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c d Goodman, Amy; Gonzales, Juan (5 April 2012). "Exclusive: Cop in Fatal Shooting of Ex-Marine Kenneth Chamberlain ID'd, Sued in 2008 Racism Case". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  12. ^ "No Indictment In Police Killing Of Kenneth Chamberlain (Video)". Global Grind. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  13. ^ CNN Wire Staff (16 April 2012). "New York shooting of elderly man draws parallels to Trayvon Martin case". CNN. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  14. ^ Trangle, Sarina (11 March 2012). "Chamberlain Family Asks For Audio, Video Release in White Plains Police Shooting". White Plains Daily Voice. 
  15. ^ Trangle, Sarina. "Chamberlain's Son Seeks Name of Officer Who Used Slur". White Plains Daily Voice. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  16. ^ Coscarelli, Joe (29 March 2012). "Police Shooting of Kenneth Chamberlain Going to Grand Jury Four Months Later". New York. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  17. ^ "Justice for Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.". MoveOn.org. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  18. ^ Smith, Dave (10 April 2012). "Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.: Police Shouted Racial Slurs At Victim, A La Trayvon Martin, Before Killing Him". International Business Times. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  19. ^ a b Trangle, Sarina (5 April 2012). "Chamberlain's Shooter Accused in $10M Civil Rights Case". White Plains Daily Voice. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  20. ^ Gonzales, Juan (10 April 2012). "Former Marine shot by White Plains police died from bullet that entered arm and ripped through his lungs, autopsy reveals". New York Daily News. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  21. ^ Goodman, Amy; Bartlett, Mayo (4 May 2012). "Kenneth Chamberlain's Family Seeks Lawsuit, Federal Probe as Grand Jury Rejects Charging Officers". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  22. ^ Stapleton, Patrick; Donnelly, Brian (26 May 2012). "Nearly 200 Rally in White Plains for Chamberlain". White Plains Daily Voice. 
  23. ^ Donnelly, Brian (2 July 2012). "Chamberlain Family Files $21 Million Lawsuit Against White Plains". White Plains Daily Voice. Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  24. ^ Yang, Lucy (8 May 2012). "Chamberlain shooting prompts policy review". WABC-TV. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  25. ^ Donnelly, Brian (7 May 2012). "Chamberlain Jr: Suspend Officers in Father's Death". The Bronxville Daily Voice. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  26. ^ "Maria (Maki) Haberfeld". John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  27. ^ Donnelly, Brian (7 May 2012). "U.S. Attorney to Review Chamberlain Shooting". White Plains Daily Voice. 
  28. ^ Garrett Stodghill, Alexis (6 April 2012). "Kenneth Chamberlain case: Killing of veteran senior citizen by police to be probed by grand jury". theGrio. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  29. ^ Robles, Frances (3 May 2012). "Trayvon Martin shooting spurs other investigations around the country". Cleveland.com. McClatchy-Tribune News Service. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  30. ^ Goodman, Amy; Gonzales, Juan (29 March 2012). "Killed at Home: White Plains, NY Police Called Out on Medical Alert Shoot Dead Black Veteran, 68". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  31. ^ Trangle, Sarina (11 March 2012). "Chamberlain Family to Sue White Plains Police". White Plains Daily Voice. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  32. ^ Issacs, Mike (16 February 2015). "Coming Together program explores deadly race issues in America". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  33. ^ Donnelly, Brian (12 May 2012). "Local, State NAACP Support Chamberlain Family". White Plains Daily Voice. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 

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