Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. tossed and turned all night Thursday, questioning how a grand jury decided not to come back with a criminal indictment against White Plains Police for fatally shooting his father on Nov. 19.
The latest post on the Facebook page he started, “Justice for Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.” brings news of the U.S. District Attorney Office announcement that it will review the case.
“Consistent with our office’s practices in cases of this kind,” said a statement release by the office on Friday. “We will review all of the available evidence with respect to the death of Kenneth Chamberlain, including the evidence collected during the state’s investigation, to determine whether there were any violations of the federal criminal civil rights laws.”
The Chamberlain family has also sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General requesting a criminal investigation.
Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. told CNN Friday that the district attorney’s just another example of Westchester failing to indict police officer in the county, citing the case of off-duty Officer Christopher Ridley and Pace student Danroy Henry. He said he was upset that Officer Steven Hart, who used the n-word when trying to get Chamberlain to come to his back window and distract him from the door, wasn’t disciplined.
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According to LoHud.com, Andrew Quinn, the lawyer for Officer Anthony Carelli—who police said fatally shot Chamberlain because he was advancing at another officer with a knife—said the use of the slur had no effect on what the officers working with Chamberlin inside his apartment were trying to do. Carelli said the officers inside were completely respectful to Chamberlain, and never taunted him.
“We remain confident that the Office of the United States Attorney will conduct a thorough, unbiased and complete investigation and will undoubtedly reach the same conclusion as the Westchester County Grand Jury: that Officer Carelli's actions, while tragic in result, were necessary to save the life of his fellow officer," said Quinn, in a statement to CNN.
The Chamberlain family’s attorney Mayo Bartlett, former chair of the Westchester Human Rights Commissioner and chief of the bias crime unit for the Westchester County District Attorney, told White Plains Patch that the actions of police lead to Chamberlain’s death.
He emphasizes the fact that police were responding to the medical alert, which he said Chamberlain had because of heart problems and accidently set off. Police should have left and harassed Chamberlin for more than an hour before breaking into the apartment, since Chamberlain said he didn’t need medical attention.
“You’ll find Mr. Chamberlain was calm and at his home telling police that he didn’t need assistance before they broke his door down,” said Barlett.
It wasn’t until after police tried to force their way in, leaving Chamberlain fearing for his life, that he threatened to kill anyone who forced their way into the apartment.
“At that point they should of turned around and left, especially when Life Aid [medical alert system] said it wanted to withdraw request for assistance,” said Bartlett.
"We are obligated as a police department never to walk away from an emergency and we're not going to," White Plains Public Safety Commissioner David Chong told CNN.
White Plains will be conducting both internal and external reviews of the case and how the department deals with emotionally disturbed individuals.
Bartlett said that the fact that police said they weren’t sure if there was someone else in the apartment and other statements in reports that police released Friday, were just ways the police department tried to justify the shooting.
“It leaves me firmly convinced that Mr. Chamberlain did not need to die that night,” said Barlett, of the documents, video and audio that was released Friday. “The fact that racial slurs were used was absolutely unacceptable and inexplicable. That being explained as a tactic to distract him [Chamberlain] is also entirely unacceptable.”
Bartlett along with Blacks In Law Enforcement of America, community leaders, lawyers and families of victims of police brutality in Westchester met with New York State Senator Eric Adams to discuss him sponsorship of legislation to establish an independent inspect general for the New York City Police.
“To sustain the integrity of our Law Enforcement work force, a system that is accountable, transparent and independent is critical,” said Adams, in a press release from Blacks in Law Enforcement. “We need to ensure public faith in a process that examines abuses, corruption and the undermining of the civil rights and privacy that are the right and privilege of our residents."
Bartlett told LoHud.com that Adams promised consider including Westchester in his proposal.
LoHud.com (click here to read the article) and Democracy Now! (click here to read the article) interviewed Chamberlain’s neighbors at 135 S. Lexington Ave. who were upset by the lack of an indictment.
“He had a life alert, man had a life alert,” Rowland Hudson, told Democracy Now! “That should tell the story. He fought for our country. It’s a shame.”