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Police shooting justified in Kenneth Chamberlain case

CRAIG D. FRAZIER Special to the AmNews | 4/16/2013, 4:34 p.m.
Police shooting justified in Kenneth Chamberlain case

The report commissioned by the city of Westchester released last week described the shooting of Kenneth Chamberlain as "totally justified." The report was soon denounced by the Chamberlain family.

Chamberlain was shot and killed in his own home last November by Officer Anthony Carelli in White Plains, N.Y., after he mistakenly set off his LifeAid Medical Alert pendant. Ironically, a call for help turned into the police confronting Chamberlain with a stun gun, shooting him with a beanbag and blasting him twice in the chest. Police said the 68-year-old retired corrections officer attacked them with a hatchet and knife and that their use of deadly force was in self-defense.

Maria Haberfeld, chair of the department of law and police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, joined by a team of criminologists, made a "top-to-bottom" review of the White Plains Police Department's policies and procedures.

The Chamberlain family, Law Enforcement of America and the White Plains-Greenburgh NAACP agree that the 83-page report that analyzed virtually every aspect of the department, including recruitment, training, staffing, discipline and operations, is a whitewash and renewed calls for independent oversight of law enforcement.

"This report is not worth the paper it is printed on," said Damon Jones, president of the Westchester chapter of Blacks in Law Enforcement.

Lawyers for the Chamberlain family are raising issues of what they believe are problems of racial bias and brutality within the White Plains Police Department and are still waiting on the results of a criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney's office.

"We are waiting for a decision from the U.S. attorney's office as to whether or not they will indict any of the officers involved for federal criminal civil rights violations," stated Chamberlain family lawyer Randy McLaughlin. "We are also filing a civil rights lawsuit against the city of White Plains and the police officers involved in the incident."