Chamberlain Family Files $21 Million Lawsuit Against White Plains

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The family of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. filed a $21 million federal lawsuit against White Plains, its Police Department, Housing Authority and eight of its police officers. Photo Credit: The Daily Voice

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Lawyers for the family of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. filed a $21 million federal lawsuit Monday in the shooting death of the retired corrections officer by a White Plains police officer.

Named in the lawsuit filed in U. S. District Court in Manhattan were the City of White Plains, the White Plains Police Department, Housing Authority and eight officers involved in the incident.

The wrongful death lawsuit charges that the White Plains police officers involved violated Chamberlain's constitutional rights when they broke down his apartment door in the 135 South Lexington Ave. apartment building on Nov. 19, 2011.

Police were responding to a medical alert from LifeAid that Chamberlain accidentally triggered. White Plains Public Safety Commissioner David Chong has said Chamberlain lodged a hatchet in a crack in the door when police were talking to him from outside his ground-floor apartment, and that he had a butcher's knife when they forcibly entered. He said officers tried to use non-lethal tactics, but the retired corrections officer, who had served in the U.S. Marines, came at one of the officers, Anthony Carelli with the knife, prompting him to shoot Chamberlain in the chest twice.  

The Chamberlain family said officers used a racial slur and expletives before unhinging the Winbrook Public Housing apartment door and shooting the 68-year-old. An autopsy revealed Chamberlain was legally drunk at the time.

Randolph McLaughlin, one of three lawyers representing the family, said at a press conference outside the court that Chamberlain's Fourth Amendment right to be secure in his home was violated.

The Chamberlain family filed notice of claim for the wrongful death lawsuit in early May after a Westchester County grand jury decided not to indict police in the shooting. At that time, they also requested the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York to investigate the incident.

"They have indicated that they are going to investigate it," Bartlett said.

Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. will address the White Plains City Council on Monday at its  regular meeting

"We will be discussing the need for transparency and accountability, and the need for law enforcement to apply the same rules to themselves that they apply to the rest of the citizenry," Mayo Bartlett, another lawyer for the Chamberlain family, said. 

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