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Apr-06-2012 14:55printcomments

Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., USMC - 68 Years old, Killed by White Plains New York Police

“It wasn’t a crime scene until they made it one.” - Kenny Randolph listened from his apartment across the hall

Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr.,
Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., - Murdered by cops after his MedAlert went off. It is a tragedy.

(WASHINGTON DC Occupy Marines) - The niece stood in the darkened stairwell of the Winbrook Houses, listening, as 20 feet away five police officers yelled at her uncle, who had locked himself in his apartment.

It was 5:25 on a chill November morning. The officers banged loud and hard, demanding that her 68-year-old uncle open his door.

“He was begging them to leave him alone,” she recalls. “He sounded scared.” She pulls her shawl about her shoulders and her voice cracks; she is speaking for the first time about what she saw. “I heard my uncle yelling, ‘Officers, officers, why do you have your guns out?’ ”

The string of events that night sounds prosaic, a who-cares accumulation of little mistakes and misapprehensions. Cumulatively, though, it is like tumbling down the stairs. Somehow the uncle, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., a former Marine who had heart problems and wheezed if he walked more than 40 feet, triggered his medical alert system pendant. The system operator came on the loudspeaker in his one-bedroom apartment, asking: “Mr. Chamberlain, are you O.K.?” All of this is recorded.

Mr. Chamberlain didn’t respond. So the operator signaled for an ambulance. Police patrol cars fell in behind — standard operating procedure in towns across America. Except an hour later, even as Mr. Chamberlain insisted he was in good health, the police had snapped the locks on the apartment door.

They fired electric charges from Tasers, and beanbags from shotguns. Then they said they saw Mr. Chamberlain grab a knife, and an officer fired his handgun.

Boom! Boom! Mr. Chamberlain’s niece Tonyia Greenhill, who lives upstairs, recalls the echoes ricocheting about the hall. She pushed out a back door and ran into the darkness beneath overarching oaks. He lay on the floor near his kitchen, two bullet holes in his chest, blood pooling thick, dying.

It makes sense to be humble in the presence of conflicting accounts. The White Plains public safety commissioner declared this a “warranted use of deadly force”; the shooter was later put on modified assignment. Mr. Chamberlain, in the commissioner’s telling, had withstood electric charges, grabbed a butcher knife and charged the officers.

The alert system phone in Mr. Chamberlain’s apartment recorded most of the standoff, as did a security camera in the hall. And the officers’ Tasers carried video recorders.

Last month, the Westchester County district attorney played these for the dead man’s son, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., who teaches martial arts for a local nonprofit organization and intends to file a lawsuit. He is lithe, with a shaved head, and takes pride in a reasoned manner. “My family, we’re not into histrionics,” he says. “We don’t run down the street inciting riot.”

His voice cracks, though, as he describes the tapes. “I heard fear,” he says. “In my 45 years on this earth, I never heard my father sound like that.”

The district attorney will present the case to a grand jury and has not released transcripts. But the family’s recollection matches that of neighbors who listened through closed doors.

They say officers taunted Mr. Chamberlain. He shouted: “Semper fi,” the Marine Corps motto. The police answered with loud shouts of “Hoo-rah!” Another officer, the niece says, said he wanted to pee in Mr. Chamberlain’s bathroom.

Someone, the niece and neighbors say, yelled a racial epithet at the door. Black and white officers were present.

Kenny Randolph listened from his apartment across the hall. “They put fear in his heart,” he says. “It wasn’t a crime scene until they made it one.”

The police say Mr. Chamberlain was “known” to them, although it appears he had not been convicted of a crime. There are intimations that he wrestled with emotional issues. Sometimes, neighbors say, he talked to himself. Who’s to say? As often, life’s default position is set to “complicated.”

Many police departments have trained corps of officers expert in talking with the emotionally upset. Their rule of thumb: talk quietly and de-escalate. That night in White Plains, no one appeared to have de-escalated anything.

Mr. Chamberlain sounded spooked. His son recalls hearing his father say on tape: “This is my sworn testimony. White Plains officers are coming in here to kill me.” A few minutes later, a bullet tore through his rib and heart. The ambulance took him to White Plains Hospital, where he soon died.

His son lives five minutes away. He says he could have talked his father down. Standing in the office of his lawyer Randolph M. McLaughlin, he mimes knocking on his dad’s door. “Dad, it’s me, Ken, I’m here.” His eyes are bloodshot and brimming. “I always said, ‘I’m the protector now.’ But I wasn’t there when he needed me.”

Twitter: @powellnyt
City of White Plains
Municipal Building
255 Main Street
White Plains, NY 10601
Phone: 914-422-1200
Fax: 914-422-1395

Police Department
77 South Lexington Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601
tel: 914-422-6111

Petition and Group:
Police confirm name of officer:
Excellent video about the shooting:
Video of Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr. appearing at White Plains City Council mtg 4/2/2012:

4/5/12: by Jack Neworth, columnist, Santa Monica Daily Press

Note from Editor: No racist comments will be approved

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Anonymous April 9, 2012 5:58 pm (Pacific time)

The thugs of the ghetto cannot understand any abstract concepts like "rule of law" or "justice". They live like the hyenas and lions...always battling each other remorselessly and with acidic hatred. In prison, these animals learn manly gay love and become happy. Blacks can...

Editor: This comment only became worse, his IP all you intel guys, is IP

terry wagar April 7, 2012 11:58 pm (Pacific time)

COLLI I have already stated my case publicly and I am saying the simple truth as I know it to be. I am not hating on anyone I am reporting what I am witness to and I back up my words with my name. The police are more than welcome to deny any alidation/charge I make against them in a criminal court of law. They do not have the guts to do so. Terry Wagar

COLLI April 7, 2012 6:05 pm (Pacific time)

terry wagar: You paint with a very broad brush. While some police officers may be rotten apples, some are outstanding examples of what we would all like to believe a police officer should be. You most certainly have a right to your own opinion but spreading hatred of police officers, ministers, white people, black people, motorcycle riders, Muslims, chimney-sweeps, or sales-clerks in general, is not in anyone's best interest. If you know a bad police officer name names and state documented facts otherwise you are simply hate-mongering.

terry wagar April 7, 2012 10:36 am (Pacific time)

The police murder people, the police frame people, the police rape people, the police are an organized gang of criminals that do not recognize complaints against them. Charge a cop with a crime and they ignore it, call 911 and they will assault you and then cover up your 911 call, charge a cop with a crime publicly and they will have their bro's at the hospital label you as mentally ill on their paperwork. Cops have a very large history of killing people they label mentally ill, they do this to discredit their victims accusations. Charge a cop with a crime to a cops face and that cop will smirk at you and ignore everything you just said, in your pressence, that's their way of making it known to you they don't give a damn you are a victim. Cops are so organized that they litteraly brag to their victims, cops will provoke you into defending yourself, and that's the moment that they either beat you or kill you. This goes on all over the country, and their is always someone in charge of so called "investigations" into these police actions that simply label the cops in some form or another as "justified" and they do this without a trial, a criminal trial. I don't remember the people surrendering judicial authority's to any law officer to make judicial decissions such as that without their being a trial. If a cop kills anyone there should be a trial, a criminal trial, to determine whether a cop committed a crime or not. It is sad that cops know they will not stand trial in a criminal court room even if people back up criminal complaints against them because cops know their bro's got their back, and no prosecutor is willing to prosecute a cop. That only leaves family's of victims the option of a civil judgement against the police, and civil judgements are only over money, not jail time, and the tax payers get the bill. So cops just don't give a damn they know their bro's got their backs and the tax payers take care of the civil aspect of damages, so cops know they can get away with murder and smirk about it. There is no law or due process in this country anymore while cops are free to ignore law and due process. Charge a cop with a feloney, that's when you discover you been fed propaganda all your life and wake up to the fact that we live in a fascist country. Terry Wagar

COLLI April 7, 2012 2:14 am (Pacific time)

I must agree with Anonymous in that all of the facts are needed. The fact that Mr. Chamberlain did not answer the door when the police banged on it is a bit strange and should be considered. Forced entry to someone's abode on a medical alert call, when they responded vocally and sounded lucid, is also a bit strange. Situations can (and often do) change in a split-second. As strange as this scenario played-out, a thorough investigation must be done.

COLLI April 7, 2012 1:50 am (Pacific time)

Once again I suggest that there should be a thorough investigation into this shooting. The tapes certainly sound like they are at least somewhat conclusive but only those who were at the scene can relate what really transpired that day. If everything was exactly as this article states, the police, at best, handled the situation poorly. I mean for a call that began as a medical alert request to end-up as a shooting by the police . . . come on folks . . . strange would be an understatement! If a thorough investigation is not done here, the Police Department and the City of White Plains should be sued at the least. The problem is that none of this will bring Mr. Chamberlain back. My sympathy goes out to his family. I can't even imagine the hurt they must feel as a result of this strange but tragic scenario.

Anonymous April 6, 2012 7:40 pm (Pacific time)

I am glad that there were black and white cops. Now I guess all the cops are the Criminals. And here we go again, the famous law suit. I am sure there is more to the story. The liberal press is very well known for leaving important facts out of the story or twist it

Editor: I'm sorry, did you say something?  As I said to the last commenter of similar ilk, you are like so many against the teachings of Jesus Christ, hell you're probably a devil worshiper if you feel so strongly.  Well maybe next time you should volunteer to be the sacrifice?  One for old Lucifer right?

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