WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. will think of his father as the former U.S. Marine’s April 12 birthday approaches.
Except this spring, Chamberlain will mark the date by worrying about what evidence a grand jury is scrutinizing in its review of White Plains Police Officer Anthony Carelli reportedly lodging two fatal bullets in his father's chest.
“It’s very difficult,” he said. “He would have been 69.”
The Westchester District Attorney’s Office has advised Chamberlain that on Wednesday a grand jury will begin reviewing the Nov. 19 standoff between officers and Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. that left the retired corrections officer lifeless.
The family and its attorneys have been shown audio and video of Chamberlain Sr.‘s final moments surrounded by officers responding to an accidentally triggered 5:08 a.m. medical alert. Yet, the recordings failed to answer the family’s questions about why police withheld the shooter’s identity for more than four months and which officer taunted Chamberlain Sr. with a racial slur.
The department maintains Carelli is not the officer heard using a racial epithet on an audio tape, but Carelli’s past has the Chamberlains doubting the officials’ narrative. The officer is fighting a $10 million civil rights lawsuit accusing him of brutalizing Yonkers twins while allegedly calling them “rag heads,” and allegedly striking one handcuffed brother in the face with his night stick.
“If they claim that he wasn't the officer who used the racist slur, then give us the name of the officer who did,” Chamberlain said. “It’s obviously a consistent pattern of behavior. This just happens to be two incidents that he’s been caught on. Who knows how many more there are?”
Police have declined to comment since the Chamberlain family filed a notice of claim informing the city, department and housing authority to expect a wrongful-death lawsuit.
Initially, police said, they began unhinging the door to ensure that noises coming from inside the apartment were not someone calling for assistance. Chamberlain Sr. attempted to bar officers from entering with a hatchet and attacked officers with a butcher’s knife, according to police. Chamberlain Sr. came at Carelli with the knife, prompting the officer to shoot him twice in the chest, police said.
The recordings capture officers responding to his father’s requests to be left alone with jeers at his Marine service and curses, according to Chamberlain. The son said he witnessed police rip the door off the Winbrook Public Housing apartment, fire a Taser at his father without pausing to issue commands and watch Carelli fire two rounds at his unarmed father on the tapes.
“I hope there will be an indictment and a second-degree murder charge for Carelli,” he said. “Do I think the other officers who were there and didn't stop this should be charged? Yes, but I don’t necessarily know what that should be.”
“We won’t know anything. We don’t know what will be presented to the jury,” Chamberlain said of the recordings he and his attorneys have been shown as a courtesy. "They talk about transparency, but won't release it."
Public Safety Commissioner David Chong has described Carelli as a veteran officer who never before used his gun on the job. The police union president issued a statement describing Carelli as an “excellent officer” with “numerous commendations."
The department's failure to address the alleged racial slur and taunts has upset Chamberlain.
“For him to say Officer Carelli has a record with commendations and that he thinks the investigation will show officers acted properly when the the n-word was used and there were taunts makes no sense,” Chamberlain said. “I believe some of the officers there know that what happened was wrong but are afraid to speak up.”
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