WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The White Plains Police Officer who shot 68-year-old Kenneth Chamberlain, sending him to the hospital where he died hours later, is fighting a $10 million federal civil rights case.
Officer Anthony Anthony Carelli is among six police officers accused of brutalizing Jereis and Salameh Hattar while arresting the Yonkers twins when they left a birthday party at the Black Bear Saloon on May 24, 2008. The Chamberlain family said the lawsuit echoes the racial slurs and excessive force they witnessed on audio and video of the Nov. 19 clash that resulted in the death of Chamberlain Sr., a former Marine and retired corrections officer.
According to the civil suit, the brothers stepped out of the celebration around 2:30 a.m. and were stopped by police on the corner of E. Post Road and Mamaroneck Avenue, where Carelli and other officers knocked Jereis Hattar to the ground and kicked him. Salameh Hattar objected to his brother’s disorderly conduct arrest and was then placed in squad car beside him on the same charges.
“While hand cuffed and confined, the plaintiffs were ridiculed, struck and beaten by the various defendants,” the complaint reads. “The defendants made racist remarks towards the plaintiffs, who are of Arab descent and called them 'rag heads' amongst other racially derogatory comments.”
At headquarters, Carelli thrust his night stick into Jereis Hattar’s eye while he was in handcuffs, according to the suit. All charges against the Hattar brothers were dismissed.
Carelli’s attorney Joseph Maria did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday. The White Plains officer denied beating the twins in court documents. He and other officers said Jereis Hattar injured his own face by repeatedly beating his head against a plastic partition in the squad car, the documents said.
The Chamberlain family’s repeated requests for the name of the officer who shot the 68-year-old in his Winbrook Public Housing apartment was granted Wednesday, after more than four months of pleading. Mayo Bartlett, an attorney representing the Chamberlains, said the fact that Carelli is about to face trial for “such a similar incident” suggests the department may have kept him anonymous to protect his past.
“It’s remarkable to me that it’s taken this long for us to get the name,” said Bartlett. “It adds to our concerns. It sort of confirms that bias was a motivating factor because in the other case it’s alleged that he uses ethnic slurs and strikes a person who is being restrained by handcuffs.”
Bartlett said recordings show officers responded to Chamberlain Sr.’s requests to be left alone with a racial epithet and taunts. They then ripped his door off the hinges and fired a Taser at him without issuing commands for him to raise his hands, according to Bartlett. The Westchester District Attorney's Office will not release the audio and video prior to a grand jury's deliberations and has only shown it to the family as a courtesy.
Police have said they heard loud noises coming from the 135 S. Lexington Ave. apartment and began unhinging the door to ensure that everyone inside was safe. While prying open the door, a hatchet was slid through the crack and confiscated by officers, police said.
Once inside, police said they were unable to pacify Chamberlain Sr. with a Taser and beanbag gun. Carelli shot him twice in the chest when Chamberlain Sr. approached him with a butcher’s knife, according to past police reports.
Chamberlain Sr. died two hours later while undergoing surgery at White Plains Hospital.