The police officer accused of shooting and killing 68-year-old former Marine Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. last November was cleared of all charges on Thursday. A grand jury in White Plains, New York ruled that Anthony Carelli was justified in his use of force against Chamberlain and there is not enough evidence to indict him.
The police showed up to Chamberlain’s home on November 19th after he accidently triggered the LifeAlert pendant he wore around his neck because of health issues related to his heart. Despite Chamberlain’s insistence that alert was a mistake, police entered the home forcefully and a stand-off ensued.
Months after the incident, tapes from the incident revealed that the officers had verbally mocked Chamberlain, including the use of racial slurs and taunting the elderly man about his time in the Marines. A security camera in the hall of the Winbrook houses where Chamberlain lived and a recorder on a stun gun used at the scene recorded an officer saying “I don’t give a f—k n—ger! Open the door!” and others tauntingly using the Marine Corp motto “Semper Fi” towards Chamberlain.
There are different accounts of what happened during the standoff. According to the cops, Chamberlain used a hatchet to block the door as police officers tried to force it open. After entering the apartment, he was shocked by a stun gun and then shot twice in the chest after allegedly brandishing a butcher knife.
Other witnesses are skeptical of the story. Chamberlain’s niece, Tonyia Greenhill, heard the commotion upstairs from her apartment and tried to suggest that she mediate but she was rebuffed by the police. “I heard my uncle yelling, ‘Officers, officers, why do you have your guns out?’” said Greenhill.
According to Greenhill, her uncle sounded scared and was begging the police officers to leave him alone. Another neighbor also believes Chamberlain sounded frightened. “They put fear in his heart,” said Kenny Randolph, who lives across the hall. “It wasn’t a crime scene until they made it one.”
Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., the victim’s son, heard the tapes and he heard what Randolph and Greenhill said they heard. “I heard fear,” he said to the New York Times. “In my 45 years on this earth, I never heard my father sound like that.”
The White Plains police department plans to launch a separate investigation into the use of the racial epithet. “The use of a racial epithet in any context is offensive to the dignity of all of us,” said Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore.