WPCNR WHITE PLAINS LAW JOURNAL. By John F. Bailey. August 4, 2028:
The 12-year efforts of the Kevin Chamberlain, Jr family on behalf of their father, Kevin Chamberlain,Sr. in their quest for damages in the death of Mr. Chamberlain, Sr. who was shot and killed in 2011 in his apartment in the Winbrook complex has reached a settlement with the City of White Plains in the matter.
In an ordinance on the White Plains Common Council agenda Monday, the settlement to be paid the family by The City of White Plains is $5,000,000. It awaits approval by the Common Monday evening.
The family had originally sued the City for $21 Million.
The Appellate Court Second Department had previously found in the original suit which had been dismissed by the County Supreme Court, an error opening the possibility of a new trial.
The Common Council considered the Chamberlain law suit last Monday evening in Executive Session.
WIKIPEDIA has an extensive recap of this case:
At approximately 5:22 a.m., on November 19, 2011, Chamberlain was at home in the Winbrook Public Housing at 135 S. Lexington Avenue in White Plains, New York. His LifeAid medical alert necklace was triggered, sending an alert to a LifeAid customer service operator, who in turn called the City of White Plains Department of Public Safety.
In response, police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians were dispatched. At Chamberlain’s home, police knocked on his door. Chamberlain told them through the door, he did not call them, did not require assistance, was not having a medical emergency, and asked them to leave. Police refused to leave his home, and insisted that Chamberlain open the door. Throughout the entire incident, an audio recording was made by a LifeAid device in the home. The police became more insistent, and began banging on the door. Chamberlain then contacted the LifeAid operator asking them for help. He stated that the White Plains Police employees were going to enter his home and kill him. The police continued to bang on the door, and then attempted to force it open for approximately one hour.
Upon breaking down his door, they entered Chamberlain’s apartment. Police alleged Chamberlain came at them with a butcher knife when they broke down the door. Chamberlain’s family claims the elderly Chamberlain was unarmed, and did not resist. Police tased him, and then shot him with a bean bag round fired from a shotgun. Chamberlain allegedly continued to charge at officers with the knife when Officer Anthony Carelli (whose name was withheld for over four months after the incident) shot him twice in the chest with live ammunition. A camera mounted on the taser captured the tasing, but was not functioning during the shooting. Chamberlain later died in surgery at White Plains Hospital.
COURT PROCEEDINGS OVER LAST 12 YEARS:
District Attorney and Grand jury inactions
In 2012, a grand jury reviewed the case and decided that no criminal charge would be made against police officers involved in the killing. Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore (retired New York’s Chief Judge) defended her decision not to prosecute Carelli and his colleagues on the grounds that they “acted appropriately,” and that “there was no reasonable cause” to indict Carelli for murder. DiFiore also neglected to take any disciplinary action against officer Steven Hart for calling Chamberlain a “nigger”.
Police department review
In May 2012, White Plains mayor Thomas Roach announced that he would bring in “outside experts to do a broad review of” policy for the city’s police department. The commission’s chair was Dr. Maria Haberfeld, a political science professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the academic coordinator for New York’s Executive Police Institute.
After a four-month investigation, the report concluded that Chamberlain’s shooting was justifiable because it happened “after negotiations and when all non-lethal means were unsuccessful.” The family’s lawyers and groups such as Blacks in Law Enforcement of America (BLEA) have criticized the report for failing to consider and address various issues.
Chamberlain’s family asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for a “criminal investigation,” and in May 2012 the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that it would investigate whether federal civil rights law was violated. In January 2018, federal prosecutors decided not to bring any charges.
An online petition was created by the son of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. By April 6, 2012, it had received nearly 199,900 signatures. It asks for an end to police misconduct and brutality, and for the officers involved to be “indicted and charged with murder and civil rights violations.” The petition will be delivered to the County District Attorney for Westchester, Janet DiFiore.
Chamberlain Jr. said he was inspired by the petition circulated online by the parents of shooting victim Trayvon Martin, saying, “I signed Trayvon’s petition, sat back and thought, ‘Well, maybe I should do a petition.'” As of May 3, 2012, the petition had received at least 208,000 signatures.
KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN, JR. AFTER FEDERAL CIVIL SUIT DECISION
On July 2, 2012, a federal civil suit for $21 million was filed by the victim’s son, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., against the City of White Plains and the White Plains Police Department. In November 2012, the Chamberlain family amended their lawsuit to require the city to modify police procedures with the mentally ill.
The case went to trial on November 7, 2016. The jury found neither the police nor the city liable. The family has appealed, arguing that the judge improperly excluded evidence. The appellate court heard argument on March 22, 2018.
Appeals court decision
In June 2020, an appellate court ruled that the federal judge erred when she dismissed some of the claims in the lawsuit filed in 2011. The ruling restores claims of non-lethal excessive force and unlawful entry in the killing of Chamberlain. The court found that the lawsuit presented sufficient allegations that “a reasonable, experienced officer would not be justified in believing that entry into the apartment was necessary.”
Chamberlain’s son expressed joy upon hearing the ruling saying, “The appeals court has confirmed what we knew all along: That they violated my father’s 4th Amendment rights.” Chamberlain Jr. and his lawyers noted and found it appropriate that the ruling came at a time of nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd.
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