Chamberlain Was Shot and Killed by Officer Anthony Carelli After the Police Unlawfully Entered Chamberlain’s Apartment
NEW YORK, NY — June 1, 2020 — On June 1, 2020, the Second Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of claims against the White Plains Police that they unlawfully forced their way into Mr. Chamberlain’s apartment and that they used excessive force against him in the process. The case began on November 19, 2011, when Mr. Chamberlain’s Life Aid medical alert device went off accidentally. When the police arrived at Mr. Chamberlain’s door, they began loudly banging on his door and shouting demands that they be allowed to enter. The appellate court, relying on the allegations of the amended complaint, the contents of audio and video recordings of the events, and transcripts of the recordings, ruled that there was sufficient evidence before the district court to permit the case to proceed to discovery. The Court concluded that “the process of gaining physical entry into Chamberlain’s apartment took more than an hour from the moment the officers arrived at the apartment until the moment they tore off Chamberlain’s door,” entered his apartment, deployed a taser, and shot Mr. Chamberlain four times with a bean bag shot gun and ultimately killed him.
At the time of his death, Mr. Chamberlain was a 68-year old African-American Marine Corps veteran who lived in White Plains, New York. Mr. Chamberlain had accidentally activated his Life Aid device. Life Aid, when they were unable to reach Mr. Chamberlain by telephone contacted the White Plains Police Department. When the police arrived, Mr. Chamberlain advised them repeatedly that he had not called them and did not need their assistance. In fact, Life Aid contacted the police and attempted to cancel the call. The Life Aid operator was told by the police that were going to make entry. During the hour long siege the police taunted Mr. Chamberlain, mocked his military service and one officer is alleged to have said, “I don’t give a fuck nigger” open the door. The police used various tools to rip Mr. Chamberlain’s door off its hinges. After the door was removed, police officers, armed with a taser, a bean bag shot gun, a tactical shield, heavy vests, and helmets, discharged the taser and multiple rounds of the bean bags at Mr. Chamberlain who remained inside his apartment at all times. It was alleged that Mr. Chamberlain was struck four times with the bean bags and already had been knocked to the ground when Officer Carelli fired the fatal shot.
The case will now proceed back to the district court for further proceedings. Debra Cohen, who argued the appeal, stated, “We are ready to proceed to trial and hold these officers accountable for their unlawful actions.” Commenting on the decision, Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr., stated, “My family is pleased that this case will go back to the district court for a full trial on all the issues before a jury in White Plains. We are confident that when a jury hears all the evidence, they will conclude that White Plains violated my father’s constitutional rights.”