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Chamberlain Death Shocks White Plains' Winbrook

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The police tape roping off the entrance to 135 S. Lexington Ave. has been removed and the metal door police forced open before fatally shooting an armed man has been replaced. Still, Winbrook Public Housing residents and neighbors are just beginning to grapple with the loss of Kenneth Chamberlain .

“This is something that’s going to be talked about for a while,” said Rowland Hudson, 49, who works for the county government. “We knew him as a vet and a quiet person who never bothered anyone. The way I see it, I don’t understand how a Taser and bean bag gun couldn’t stop a 68-year-old.”

Hudson and other Winbrook residents are questioning the actions of police when officers responded to an alert about a distressed person at approximately 5:08 a.m. Saturday. Public Safety Commissioner David Chong said officers heard screams and incoherent voices behind the apartment door and began forcing it open after extensive negotiations with the occupant failed.

While prying open the locked door, police said Chamberlain swung a hatchet between the door and the hallway and an officer pulled it from Chamberlain’s hands.

Chong said Chamberlain was armed with a butcher’s knife when officers tried to subdue him using a Taser and bean bag gun. However, Chamberlain turned toward an officer with the knife in hand, Chong said, prompting a policeman to shoot him twice. Chamberlain collapsed but continued to try to fight officers who tried to give him CPR and then he attempted to cut his own throat, Chong said.

After wrestling the knife out of Chamberlain’s hands, police said he was rushed to the White Plains Hospital, where he died during surgery just after 7 a.m. Saturday.

Dwight Ham, 38, said he questioned the way in which Chamberlain died.

“It’s just really tragic. He was a real good man, humble, quiet. He used to be a corrections officer. He kept to himself,” said Ham, who works for the Open Arms men’s shelter. “He was wearing a lifeline thing because he had a heart condition. They came to respond to a medical concern and wound up shooting him.”

At a press conference Saturday, Chong would not release the name of the officer who shot Chamberlain or say where the bullets hit his body.

Chong said he believed all responding officers followed departmental rules and procedures. He described the policeman who shot Chamberlain as an eight-year veteran of the department, who had an “exemplary record” and had never before fired his weapon on duty. He added that the police department was familiar with Chamberlain, but would not describe why or how officers knew him.

The police department and Westchester District Attorney’s Office have launched an investigation into what transpired Saturday night, as is standard procedure, Chong said.

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