Feds to review shooting of Westchester Marine

CRAIG D. FRAZIER Special to the AmNews | 10/22/2012, 2:08 p.m.

A Westchester grand jury cleared Officer Anthony Carelli last week of all criminal charges in the shooting death of retired Westchester corrections officer and former Marine Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. in his apartment on Nov. 19, 2011.

The Westchester district attorney's office released 200 pages of records, including audio and videotapes, that show Chamberlain loud and animated throughout the encounter while cops tried to persuade him to open his door and put down his weapon.

"They have shotguns, stun guns, they have their Glocks out . . . they're trying to kill me!" said Chamberlain according to audio captured by the LifeAid company.

Randolph McLaughlin, one of the Chamberlain family lawyers, noted that officers "brutally" killed him after "threatening him, taunting him and using racial slurs."

"We think that the grand jury's failure to indict any officer for any crime in connection with the killing of anyone is a travesty of justice," said McLaughlin.

The grand jury began hearing the case against Carelli three weeks ago after national media attention over Trayvon Martin's killing in Florida sparked new interest in the Chamberlain shooting.

"We did everything we could, and should do, to put together every piece of relevant and admissible evidence, but ultimately the grand jury did not find evidence to bring forth an indictment upon Officer Anthony Carelli, who had been identified as Chamberlain's shooter," Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said in a statement.

White Plains PBA President Robert Riley thanked the grand jury for reaching "the obvious conclusion that Carelli's actions were necessary and justified."

"Every police officer's worse nightmare is to be forced to take a life," Riley told reporters.

Throughout the investigation, the police officers involved have been under fire for their questionable use of police authority. Officer Stephen Hart, who was caught on tape calling Chamberlain the N-word, is facing his own civil suit in federal court for a different incident. A young Hispanic HSBC bank vice president alleges that Hart broke his nose last January while arresting him for disorderly conduct.

Sgt. Stephen Fottrell, one of the supervisors on the scene at Chamberlain's house that night, had a federal case dismissed last week in court after a Black woman claimed he fired a stun gun at her in 2009. Meanwhile, Carelli, who shot Chamberlain, faces a civil rights lawsuit in federal court.

In requesting a federal review by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., McLaughlin said cops violated Chamberlain's constitutional rights and that he and others "have been subjected to the use of excessive and/or deadly force, discriminatory harassment based on race and disability and the use of racial slurs by Westchester police officers."

DiFiore said the officer intended to distract Chamberlain with the use of the N-word, a tactic she condemned. "The idea that in 2012 an police officer would justify using a racial slur indicates a biased state of mind, especially an officer who is dealing with someone they believe is an emotionally disturbed person. How is that going to help you do your job protect to him and keep him safe?" McLaughlin asked.