Editor's note: The Westchester County District Attorney is planning on speaking about this case at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. We will bring you all the news as it develops.
There were at least three White Plains officers working the night Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. was killed who have pending lawsuits involving allegations of police brutality that also touch on race.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see there’s a pattern,” said Chamberlain family lawyer Randolph McLaughlin, a Pace University professor and attorney with the Newman Ferrara law firm.
Chamberlain, a 68-year-old retired Marine, was shot and killed on Nov. 19 by White Plains Officer Anthony Carelli in his apartment a 135 S. Lexington Ave. after police broke down Chamberlain’s door to respond to his medical alert device.
police often visited Chamberlain, whose autopsy revealed that he was legally drunk at the time, and that Chamberlain threatened to kill himself and attacked officers with a hatchet and knife before police shot him.
Chamberlain supporters say the original medical alert was canceled and that Chamberlain repeatedly told police that he didn’t need help, and that police forced their way in and shot him, a heart patient who was unarmed and in his boxer shorts.
Click here for all of White Plains Patch’s coverage on the incident.
A grand jury is currently hearing testimony over whether criminal charges should be brought against the White Plains Department of Public Safety. McLaughlin said expects the grand jury to have a decision some time this month.
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According to The Daily News, Carelli is one of six White Plains officers accused of using excessive force in a $10 million civil lawsuit brought by twin brothers of Jordanian decent who claim Carelli referred to them as “rag heads” while police beat them outside Black Bear Saloon in 2008. One of the brothers said he was handcuffed to a pole while Carelli allegedly beat him with a baton causing head and eye injuries, the newspaper said.
However, The Daily News reports that Carelli said in a deposition that one of the brothers was hitting his own head against a partition in the police car, and he had no visible head injuries. Carelli said he had to pin the brother to the ground, with the help of other officers, after he became belligerent and tried to escape the officers.
McLaughlin said that transcripts from the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office of audio recordings of the night Chamberlain was killed, reveal Officer Steven Hart as the officer who said to Chamberlain, “Stop, we have to talk [the n-word]” before police broke down his door.
USA Today reports that Hart is currently facing a federal civil rights suit for allegedly unlawfully arresting a man, breaking his nose, and slamming him on the ground causing injury to the man’s arm. Edgar Maraud, who is Hispanic and lives in Port Chester, told USA Today that he felt the attack was racially motivated.
Sgt. Stephen Fottrell—who McLaughlin said was also on duty when Chamberlain was shot—was being sued for allegedly falsely arresting Maria Livingston, an African-American woman from Brooklyn. On Wednesday a federal jury in White Plains found in favor of Fottrell and the case is now closed.
Fottrell had said in court that he arrested Livingston because she assaulted him several times.
Newsday Westchester is reporting today that Fottrell was not just on duty when Chamberlain was shot, but actually on the call.
“This is a pattern out of practice," said McLaughlin. “This was [Chamberlain’s death] was not a random occurrence. All of the people involved [Chamberlain and the plaintiffs] are all people of color. This is really troubling.”
McLaughlin said the lawsuits and allegations against city police are the reason why the police department has failed to divulge the names of the officers involved or whether they have a policies regarding the use of racial slurs or discriminatory language. The Chamberlain family’s lawyers have submitted Freedom of Information requests for police procedures regarding the use of force, use of deadly force and other policies.
“There’s been a shroud of silence from the City and police department on this case,” said McLaughlin.
that the department is fully cooperating with the district attorney's office.
While McLaughlin has said that the District Attorney’s Office has been forthcoming with information on the case—the DA’s office only allowed the Chamberlain family and lawyers to listen and watch audio and video footage from the incident as a courtesy, but have not publicly released the footage.
“Nothing has been released by anyone, which is also very odd,” said McLaughlin. “In New York City they routinely release 911 tapes. They did in the Trayvvon Martin case. Why is this so different? Why is there such a lack of transparency here?”