The lawyer for the family of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. is questioning why White Plains officials weren’t the first to reveal the name of Officer Anthony Carelli, as the officer who fatally shot the 68-year-old former Marine.
“The name was uncovered as a result of thorough investigative reporting,” said Mayo Bartlett, the family’s attorney. “That’s very different then releasing the name. If they did release the name it would have given me a much better feeling. It was almost a game of hide and seek.”
Commissioner David Chong of the as the officer who shot Chamberlain, a 68-year-old former Marine, after The Daily News broke the story—despite requests from the family to release the officer’s name.
White Plains police said they responded to an alert from Chamberlain’s Life Aid device at his apartment at 135 S. Lexington Ave. on Nov. 19—and that he refused to open the door, which he then put a hatchet through. Chong said Chamberlain also attacked police with a knife, which he tried to slit his own throat with, and that police Tasered him and shot him with a bean bag gun—but that Chamberlain couldn’t be subdued, prompting Carelli to shoot Chamberlain twice in the chest.
Click for the fully account from police on the day of the shooting.
Bartlett said Chamberlain, who has a heart condition and monitor, accidentally set off his medical alert device and told police he didn’t assistance when they arrived. Police taunted Chamberlain about his military service and said “we don’t give a f---- [expletive] nigger,” before charging through the apartment door, then immediately Tasing Chamberlain. Bartlett said that Chamberlain was unarmed and in his boxer shorts before Carelli fatally shot him.
Click on the YouTube video to watch Democracy Now interview Bartlett and Kenneth Chamberlain Jr.
According to The Daily News, Carelli is currently one of six White Plains cops accused of police brutality in a $10 civil lawsuit brought by twin brothers of Jordanian decent who claim Carelli referred to them as “rag heads” while police beat them outside Black Bear Saloon in 2008.
One of the brothers said he was handcuffed to a pole while Carelli allegedly beat him with a baton causing head and eye injuries.
Bartlett is troubled that police weren’t upfront about Carelli, and that he wonders whether they withheld his name because they knew Carelli was involved in the lawsuit.
“If proper disciplinary measures were taken in regards to the initial allegation, there’s a good chance Chamberlain would have been alive and that officer wouldn’t have been working in that capacity,” said Bartlett.
The White Plains Police Benevolent Association defended Carelli saying the officer’s name shouldn’t have been released at all, and that they are confident White Plains police acted appropriately while responding to Chamberlain’s medical emergency.
“ has numerous commendations and has been an excellent police officer, both on and off the job, and he deserves the right to a fair and impartial inquiry,” said White Plains Police Benevolent Association President Rob Riley, in .
Bartlett said that most people who are charged and arrested by police are basically good people, but that doesn’t prevent the district attorney from protecting and arresting those people.
“We can’t have two standards,” said Bartlett. “I think if you choose to be a police officer you’re taking an oath to serve and protect. It shouldn’t be the job of the police department to protect and hid their own who have engaged in misconduct. If police were so comfortable with everything, I don’t think they would play this game of hide and seek to determine who the officer was. I think they would stand behind their action instead of hiding.”
Chamberlain’s death has made national headlines and has been related to the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, which some say was a racially motivated crime—however, Bartlett said the case is more about poverty than race.
“We didn’t initially connect it with race, the police connected it with race with their own words and conduct when the officers said called Mr. Chamberlain the ‘n-word,’” said Bartlett. “Upon us hearing that statement it became clear that race was an issue in the officer’s mind. Those words should never be yelled against anyone criminal or someone you are there to provide medical assistance for.
For Bartlett, the main issue is more about how people are treated at the Winbrook Housing complex where Chamberlain lived.
Bartlett said that he represents individuals who have been harassed, arrested and charged with trespassing for visiting family or friends even though they are authorized to be there.
The charges are usually dismissed, according to Bartlett, who said that the housing authority itself has even written letters on behalf of individuals who were arrested saying there is no reason they should be charged.
“This only happens in the housing authority—people don’t get arrested for being at the City Center or Trump Center, or while visiting friends at a home in the Highlands,” said Bartlett. “I think there’s a disregard for people who happen to be poor and live in the housing authority and that may supersede race.”
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