Appeals court restores some claims in 2011 New York police shooting of veteran

There is new hope in the lawsuit that sought justice in a 2011 police killing of a former Marine, Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr.

Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. and other protestors (Photo courtesy of Andrew Courtney/ Westchester Coalition for Police Reform)

When veteran and longtime retired corrections officer Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr. triggered his medical alert pendant accidentally in 2011, police showed up as they were supposed to do. But that was the last thing that went right that night.

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Instead of helping him, White Plains, N.Y. police officers killed Chamberlain in his own home. Although he told the medical alert operator he didn’t need help, after a 90-minute standoff, Chamberlain’s door was broken down.

Chamberlain, 68, was bipolar, reported The New York Times.  After officers— who it was proven on audio called him a racial slur— tased him and used beanbag rounds on him, it is alleged that Chamberlain lunged at one with a knife and was shot and killed. DNA evidence contradicts that explanation, showing he was unarmed, according to The New York Daily News. 

(Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., U.S. Marine Corps)

 

Despite Chamberlain saying he was fine and the medical alert company attempting to cancel the call, police insisted on coming to his apartment in person. He had diagnosed mental issues, and the Times says, police had been called there before.

But initial police reports omitted one of the officer’s use of the ‘n’ word and that police had initially responded to a medical emergency call, according to Democracy Now!

In 2012, the officer who fired the fatal shot, Anthony Carelli, was not indicted after a grand jury investigation.

But Chamberlain’s son, Kenneth Jr., has sought justice for his father ever since. He co-founded the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform, which sought to change departmental policies, especially those when dealing with the mentally ill. He sued the White Plains police and the city for $21M in a wrongful death suit. In 2016, a judge ruled against him, saying neither the city nor the police were liable.

This week, a judge restored some of the suit on appeal, restoring the claims of unlawful entry and non-lethal excessive force, reports the Rockland/Westchester Journal News

Though Carelli’s lawyer says his client is still not culpable in the case as he was found not to be so in 2017, Chamberlain Jr.’s lawyer will argue that he should still be held liable for his role in the shooting.

“Overjoyed is an understatement,” Kenneth  Jr. said after the ruling. “The appeals court has confirmed what we knew all along: That they violated my father’s 4th Amendment rights.”

He says that the ruling coming as protestors fought for justice in the George Floyd killing prove that the “extrajudicial killings and summary executions” have created a pandemic of racism “just like COVID-19.”

His advice to families who have dealt with similar situations is simple.

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“Don’t give up. Stay the course. Continue to fight,” he told the Rockland/Westchester Journal-News. “Because justice delayed is not justice denied.”


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