While the nation has focused on the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Sanford, Fla., teenager who was gunned down by volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, another shooting of yet another African American victim has begun to gain nationwide media attention.
The family of Kenneth Chamberlain, a 68-year-old Marine veteran shot dead by police in his home, have reached out to federal prosecutors in hopes of convicting the officer who killed him.
After a grand jury declined to indict White Plains officer Anthony Carelli last week, the Chamberlain family sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to get him involved in the case, which his office is now reviewing.
On Nov. 19, Chamberlain, who had a serious heart condition, accidentally set off a medical alert pendant he wore around his neck. The company that supplied the pendant dispatched an ambulance to his home. Three officers also responded to the scene and a little more than an hour after they arrived Chamberlain had been hit with a Taser, bean bags, and shot to death.
In a phone call the medical company recorded after the police arrived at Chamberlain’s home, officers are heard banging on the window.
“Do not do that. I’m telling you all, I’m telling you all I’m OK,” Chamberlain said in response to the pounding on the door. A voice then responds to Chamberlain: “I don’t give a f–k, nigger.”
Randolph McLaughlin, an attorney for the Chamberlain family, says officer Stephen Hart was recorded telling Chamberlain: “We gotta talk, nigger.”
Chamberlain told the operator from the medical alert company that the officers were carrying weapons and that they intended to kill him. The company attempted to cancel the medical response with a phone call, but a 911 operator said the officers were “going to make entry anyway.”
Family members made attempts to intervene and reason with Chamberlain, both on the scene and over the phone, but were blocked by police saying they could handle the situation.
The moment when police burst into Chamberlain’s home was recorded by a camera attached to a Taser. After shocking him with the Taser, McLaughlin says Chamberlain was quickly shot with bean bags, immediately followed by two live rounds fired from Carelli’s gun. Chamberlain was hit in the chest and his lung was pierced. At no point in the recording were the officers heard telling Chamberlain to raise his hands or lie down on the floor.
According to Officer Hart’s incident report, Chamberlain “went down” after the bean bags were fired.
“That means they had an opportunity to subdue him,” McLaughlin said. “An EMS worker tells us there was no pause between the bean bags and the gun. It was bean bag, bean bag, gun.”
According to McLaughlin, the officers involved in the shooting all have other pending civil cases against them alleging excessive force and brutality, including the use of racial slurs.