WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- White Plains Police Officer Steven Hart has been suspended without pay and could face disciplinary action from the department if he is found guilty of misconduct during the response to a medical alert that ended in the death of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. last year, police officials said.
Lawyers for the Chamberlain family have said audio recordings from the medical alert system, used as evidence in Westchester County's grand jury investigation, capture Hart, a white officer, using a racial slur. The grand jury voted not to indict the officer who fatally shot Chamberlain twice, Anthony Carelli, or any of the other seven officers present.
"I think the suspension without pay is a good start and I'm hopeful they will reach the determination that his behavior shows that he was not an appropriate candidate to be a police officer," said Mayo Bartlett, one of three lawyers for the Chamberlain family, told The Daily Voice. "Beyond that we are still hopeful that there will be a criminal prosecution in this matter."
Public Safety Commissioner David Chong announced the department served Hart with the charges Friday. If found guilty of misconduct allegedly committed outside of Chamberlain's home on 135 South Lexington Ave. in the early morning hours of Nov. 19, 2011, he could face penalties ranging from a reprimand to dismissal from the Police Bureau, officials said.
The White Plains Police Department would not comment further while the charges are pending.
Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore, said the officer intended to distract Chamberlain with the use of the N-word, a tactic she condemned.
Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. took issue with that at the May 7 White Plains Common Council meeting and called for the suspension of Hart and the seven other officers who responded to his father's apartment last year. He said when he listened to the audio recordings and heard the N-word, "that’s not to distract, that was in fact to antagonize and provoke him," he said.
"I think there is no place for that type of language or conduct to begin with, but certainly not when the purpose of his presence was to render medical assistance," Bartlett said.
Chamberlain Sr., 68, was shot by police officer Anthony Carelli after police responded to a medical alert from Life Aid that Chamberlain accidentally triggered in the early morning hours of Nov. 19. During an hour-long standoff at his apartment, Chamberlain Sr. refused to open his door to allow police to verify his condition.