WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Nearly four months ago, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. received a 5 a.m. phone call from a friend urging him to rush to the Winbrook Public Housing apartment and check on his father. His friend was in the middle of explaining that he didn't know why officers were across the hall when he blurted out "I think White Plains police just shot your father."
Five minutes later, Chamberlain said officers that were called to respond to a medical alert at 135 S. Lexington Ave. directed him to the hospital where he was told that his father Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., a former marine and corrections officer, had died.
"People often ask me how am I feeling. My initial response to everyone is, 'Day by day, I’m okay.' But I'm angry," Chamberlain said. "It’s going on four months, and I don’t even know the officer's name who shot and killed my father. I don’t know if he’s out in the street right now still with his badge, still with his gun, ready to kill someone else."
Chamberlain said he hoped a grand jury handed out second-degree murder charges for those involved in the Nov. 19 incident. His attorneys, local NAACP officers, clergy and other community leaders urged a crowd of more than 150 in the Slater Center Saturday to send letters petitioning the Westchester District Attorney to release audio and video of the shooting. Chamberlain and his lawyers have reviewed the recordings, but the public has not been permitted to see them.
Mayo Bartlett, an attorney representing the Chamberlains, said an accidentally triggered medical alert sent officers to the home of Chamberlain Sr., where the 68-year-old informed police he didn't need assistance. Officers allegedly taunted Chamberlain Sr. and called him a racial slur while urging him to open the door, according to Bartlett.
Public Safety Commissioner David Chong didn’t return a call for comment. Previously, he said officers pried open the door because they were concerned others inside may be in danger. Police confiscated a hatchet thrust through the crack of the door, according to Chong, and found Chamberlain Sr. inside with a knife. Officers tried to subdue him with a taser and four or five beanbag gun shots. Police shot him twice in the chest when he aimed the knife at an officer, Chong has said.
However, attorneys said video footage shows Chamberlain Sr. was unarmed and at least eight feet away from police when they entered.
Dozens of White Plains residents seconded the request that shooting footage be released, including Allante Phillip, 18, who learned Chamberlain Sr. was her second or third cousin after his death.
“I didn't even get a chance to get to know him. I'm not going to get that opportunity now," said Phillip, who is studying education at a Massachusetts college. "I came out here to show support not only for my family, but for everyone in the community."