WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers for the family of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. to amend some of the claims in their $21 million wrongful death lawsuit.
The City of White Plains requested a meeting with the judge to seek permission to dismiss the lawsuit, which names as defendants the city, its Housing Authority, Police Department and the eight officers involved in the Nov. 19 incident that led to the shooting death of Chamberlain. However, no decision was made Thursday because the Chamberlain family lawyers said they will amend their complaint.
“Whether she grants them the right to file the motion or not really is irrelevant, because at the end of the day she is not going to dismiss this case,” Chamberlain family lawyer Randolph McLaughlin said before the meeting.
Both sides sparred Thursday over the facts of the case, including the recordings by LifeAid, the medical alert system Chamberlain accidentally triggered at 5:30 a.m., prompting a police response. The familly says the recordings show Chamberlain told police he was okay and didn’t present any danger, while the city says officers believed he did because they heard him talking to someone. They said officers believed he may have been a danger to himself or that suspected person.
Damon Jones, one of about a dozen people who attended the meeting in support of the Chamberlain family, was astonished by how differently the family and the city interpreted the recordings.
Judge Cathy Siebel indicated at least part of the complaint could make it to trial, but suggested the plaintiff amend the claims filed against the White Plains Housing Authority and officer Steven Hart to answer questions raised by the city.
Lawyers representing the Housing Authority argued it shouldn’t be held liable simply because it gave keys to the police for all apartments in the Winbrook development, where Chamberlain lived. McLaughlin argued if police didn’t have a key to the apartment, none of this would have happened, and that doing so violated the contract between landlord and leasee.
“Speaking for my family, I think that for them to even want to see the judge to present the case, even on file, to dismiss, this is insulting to my family,” Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. said after the meeting. “For them to allege that our complaint is devoid of factual content ... we’re only going by the events that took place that morning.”
McLaughlin has until Oct. 31 to submit an amended complaint.