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$21 Million Chamberlain Suit Returns to Court

U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Seibel heard arguments from both sides as the $21 million federal lawsuit against the City of White Plains, White Plains Housing Authority and several City police officers moves forward.

Attorneys from both sides of the filed by the family of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. were in court Thursday to discuss the family's case against the people and groups they believe are responsible for the former marine's death.

The lawsuit, which lists the City of White Plains, and several members of the White Plains Police Department as defendants, was filed in July. Thursday's hearing at the White Plains Federal Courthouse was held following motions from attorneys representing each defendant to have complaints against them dismissed.

The family alleges in the civil rights lawsuit that officers used excessive force when they in his White Plains apartment on Nov. 19, 2011. The lawsuit also holds the City of White Plains and the White Plains Housing Authority responsible for the events leading up the Chamberlain Sr.'s death.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel made no rulings during the hour-long hearing, but heard statements from attorneys representing each of the defendants. Andrew Quinn, an attorney representing officer Anthony Carelli, the man who fired the gunshot that killed Chamberlain Sr., argued that from the shooting will show that officers had reason to enter the apartment at 135 S. Lexington Ave. the morning of the shooting. He added that if officers had left, they could face a lawsuit for failing to take action if Chamberlain Sr. was in danger.

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Randolph McLaughlin, an attorney representing the Chamberlain family, countered that police had several opportunities to avoid entering Chamberlain's apartment.

"At that moment, at that moment the door went down, there was no reason, no reason whatsoever to enter the threshold of his apartment," he argued in court.

The Chamberlain family also alleges the White Plains Housing Authority had no right to provide keys to police without notifying tenants first. Court records say police first cracked open the door slightly using a provided key before the shooting and were able to see inside the apartment for up to 60 minutes before breaking down the door.

"Had that door not been open, perhaps we wouldn't be here," said McLaughlin.

John Pappalardo, an attorney representing officer Steven Hart, who is while standing outside of Chamberlain Sr.'s window before the shooting, argued tht his client used no force during the events that took place that morning and should receive immunity moving forward.

The attorney also said his client denies ever using a slur.

The White Plains Police Department has and he currently faces disciplinary charges.

Attorneys representing two other police officers argued their clients were never inside the apartment, and that complaints against them should be dismissed.

The lawsuit alleges that in the early morning hours of Nov. 19, 2011, Chamberlain Sr. accidently set off his medical alert device, drawing a police response. After a lengthy standoff with police, Chamberlain was shot first with a tazer, then a beanbag before he was fatally shot with a single bullet. 

Attorneys representing the Chamberlain family will have until Oct. 31 to address complaints heard in court Thursday. No court date was set for the next appearance. Judge Seibel also asked attorneys for both sides to work together to create a transcript of audio recordings of the events leading up to the shooting.

Although some aspects of the case appear to be heading toward a trial, Judge Seibel said some claims could be dropped before that time.

"There are certain claims and certain defendants I may end up dismissing, I may not," she said at the conclusion of the hearing.

Outside the courthouse, McLaughlin said he is confident the case will continue to move forward and that a jury will find all defendants liable.

"This is a journey, and if you're in this business of seeking justice you have to be in this journey and that's what we did," he said.

Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., who sat with his attorneys throughout Thursday's proceedings as several family members watched—at times weeping—from the gallery, called efforts to have the lawsuit dismissed "insulting".

"As far as justice for Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. goes, I'm immovable on my stance right now, I'm going to stay here. I'm not going anywhere," Chamberlain Jr. said. "There will be accountability on the part of the City of White Plains and the White Plains Police Department."

Wanda Miller September 13, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Stay prayerful & put up a good fight, it's worth it.
hattie chamberlain September 14, 2012 at 02:03 AM
It will be a year in November since my Brother was killed, it is still fresh. It has always been my contention, that he was murdered and violated as a man in his own home, Can someone please explain, how a damn medical emergency turned into a death call !
Patrisha Carter September 25, 2012 at 10:38 PM
There is NO justification. ,y prayers and support go out to your family!!!!! Your brother's murder will not be in vain!

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