Chamberlain Lawyers Amend $21M Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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Randolph McLaughlin, foreground, a lawyer for the family of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., added some details Monday to the family's $21 million wrongful death lawsuit. Chamberlain was shot to death Nov. 19, 2011, by White Plains police at his apartment. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Lawyers for the family of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. filed an amendment to the family's $21 million wrongful death lawsuit Monday to argue that the White Plains Police Department’s policy on dealing with emotionally disturbed people is “woefully inadequate.”

“I wouldn’t even call it a policy,” Randolph McLaughlin, one of three lawyers for the Chamberlain family, told The Daily Voice. “We’re adding some factual information.”

The amendment addresses multiple claims in the lawsuit, but McLaughlin said the main addition is to the section regarding municipal liability. He said that if the city had a more detailed policy on how police should deal with an emotionally disturbed person, Chamberlain would be alive today.

“It just says, ‘When you confront an EDP [emotionally disturbed person] take them to a hospital.’ Well, that’s obvious,” McLaughlin said of the White Plains policy. “Certainly it wouldn't be consistent with any modern police practices to have your officers cursing at an EDP, calling him the N-word, banging on his door for over an hour and ceasing to allow any family members to intervene. That just contradicts common sense.”

The amendment to the lawsuit is meant to address more specifics of the case, upon the recommendation of a federal judge earlier this fall.

Chamberlain was fatally shot Nov. 19, 2011 – one year ago Monday. White Plains police officers came to his apartment after he accidentally triggered his Life Alert system after 5 a.m. During an hourlong standoff at his apartment in the Winbrook housing complex, Chamberlain refused to open his door to allow police to verify his condition. Police have said he thrust a knife and a hatchet between the door and wall, and threatened officers with a knife when they pried the door open.

Mayo Bartlett, another lawyer for the family, said the plaintiffs are getting some documents from the city pertaining to the incident and should be deposing witnesses, something that has not happened yet. McLaughlin has said he will make the depositions open to the public.

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