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Lawyer: Autopsy Shows Chamberlain Posed No Threat to White Plains Cop

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.'s arms were resting at his sides in a "non-threatening" manner when a White Plains Police officer fatally shot the 68-year-old former Marine and retired corrections officer in the chest, according to an attorney representing the family.

The autopsy, released to The Daily White Plains by attorney Randolph McLaughlin, says Chamberlain had a 0.11 blood alcohol level and had Cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxant, in his system. McLaughlin said details of what was in his system are irrelevant and he believes the autopsy shows that Chamberlain couldn’t have been charging at Police Officer Anthony Carelli with a weapon at the time of the shooting.

“The bottom line here is not what was in his system, but what was he doing at the moment he was shot,” said McLaughlin. “When the officer pulled that gun and pulled that trigger, what was he responding to? They’re saying that he was coming at him swinging a knife or a hatchet. That doesn’t seem likely given the position of his arm when he was shot.”

McLaughlin said he considers the autopsy “critical evidence” that the officer didn’t “act in reasonable fear of his life or the life of someone else” when he fired a bullet that traveled up Chamberlain’s right arm and through his lungs.

Westchester Assistant District Attorney Timothy Ward began his presentation to the grand jury Wednesday.

A medical alert at 5:08 a.m. on Nov. 19 lead to a standoff between police and Chamberlain. The Chamberlain family says audio and video of the incident documents Chamberlain declining medical attention and emergency personnel responding by jeering at his Marine service and taunting him. One officer was recorded calling Chamberlain a racial slur.

The tapes show, according to the family, that he was unarmed when police entered his home and immediately fired a Taser at him. The Westchester District Attorney’s Office will not consider releasing audio and video of the shooting until after the grand jury finishes its deliberations.

Police have mostly declined to comment on the incident since the Chamberlain family filed a notice of claim warning the city, police department and housing authority to expect a wrongful death lawsuit. Immediately after the shooting, Public Safety Commissioner David Chong said officers began unhinging Chamberlain’s door because they wanted to verify the screams and incoherent noises coming from his apartment were not somebody in need of assistance. Police said they confiscated a hatchet thrust through the crack of the door. Once inside, officers said Chamberlain ignored their commands to drop a butcher’s knife and wasn’t subdued by a stun gun and bean bag gun shots.  Carelli fired two shots at Chamberlain’s chest when Chamberlain lunged at him with the knife, Chong has said.

Chamberlain died two hours later during surgery at the White Plains Hospital. The bullet wound was listed as the cause of death in his autopsy.

Chong said he thought all responding officers followed proper procedures in November. He described Carelli as an eight-year department veteran who had never previously fired his gun on the job. In a separate $10 million civil rights lawsuit, Carelli has been accused of calling Yonkers twins “rag heads” and brutalizing them, which the Chamberlain family says has them questioning police claims that Carelli was not the officer who used a racial epithet.

Lawyers representing Carelli in the grand jury did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

Both police and McLaughlin said they share confidence that the grand jury will be presented with a thorough investigation. Chong said the department handed all evidence over to the district attorney’s office .

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