Chamberlain, Supporters Criticize White Plains' Response To Shooting

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – After filing a $21-million federal lawsuit against White Plains in Manhattan, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. implored on Monday the White Plains Common Council to take action against its city's police officers involved in the shooting death of his 68-year-old father.

"So far, the public and my family have received only empty promises of a full internal investigation in the policies and practices of the department of public safety," Chamberlain Jr. said. "Empty promises are unacceptable when residents of this city are killed by police officers."

The common council authorized funding of an outside, independent review of the city's police department at its May 7 meeting. The federal civil rights lawsuit filed Monday lists the defendants as White Plains, its police department, housing authority and the eight officers involved in the death of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.  The lawsuit cites "wrongful death" and "negligence" among other causes.

Chamberlain Sr., 68, was shot by police officer Anthony Carelli after police responded to a medical alert that he accidentally triggered in the early morning hours of Nov. 19. During the hour-long standoff at his 135 South Lexington Ave. apartment, Chamberlain Sr. refused to open his door to allow police to verify his condition, police said.

Lawyers for the Chamberlain family said audio recordings from the medical alert system, used as evidence in the grand jury investigation, capture a white police officer, who was identified as Steven Hart by published reports, using a racial slur. 

"As of today I've been given no reason to believe that the city of White Plains has taken any steps to suspend any of these officers, or to even place them on modified duty," Chamberlain Jr. said. 

Chamberlain Jr. also questions if the grand jury that decided May 3 not to indict the police officers involved in the incident was presented with complete information. 

"Today we file a federal civil rights lawsuit against White Plains and the police officers involved in my father’s death," Chamberlain Jr. said. "It appears this may be the only way to get answers as to how and why he died in his home like a caged animal."

Public Safety Commissioner David Chong said the department cannot comment on pending litigation. 

Supporters of the Chamberlain family, including Julie Carran, also addressed the common council on Monday night. The co-chair of board for the Westchester Martin Luther King Jr. Institute for Nonviolence suggested the city do something to keep residents updated on the progress of the independent review of the police department.

In a statement released Monday, Randolph McLaughlin, one of three lawyers for the Chamberlain family, said, "This lawsuit is about holding our public servants to the same standards of the law as the rest of us."

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