In November, Kenneth Chamberlain’s heart device went off. Police officers responded to the medical emergency by shooting him to death.
The police officers originally were not charged with any crimes. But Chamberlain’s family has tried to publicize his death, and the Westchester District Attorney’s Office confirmed this week that the case will be presented to a grand jury within a month, the Daily White Plains reported today.
Chamberlain was a 68-year-old, black retired Marine living in a public housing project. On Nov. 19, a medical alert device for his heart accidentally went off, triggering a response from public safety, the New York Daily News reported. When police officers came and knocked on his door, Chamberlain didn’t open it, saying he was fine and didn’t need help. Police officers then snapped the lock and entered Chamberlain’s home. They Tasered him and then shot him. He died in the hospital two hours later.
The police officers had claimed that Chamberlain attacked them with a hatchet and a knife, and that they were acting in self-defense. They have not released the name of the officer who shot Chamberlain, the Daily White Plains reported Monday.
Authorities have also declined to release audio and video recordings from the shooting to the public, although Chamberlain’s family was able to view them.
Chamberlain’s son told Democracy Now that his father can be heard pleading with police officers to leave him alone in recordings.
“I’m a 68-year-old man with a heart condition. Why are you doing this to me?” the younger Chamberlain quotes his father as saying. “I know what you’re going to do: you’re going to come in here, and you’re going to kill me.”
The family lawyer said that the audio, recorded by Chamberlain’s medical device, then reveals that officers used a racial slur. “I don’t give a f–k, n—-r, open the door!” officers can be heard saying, Chamberlain’s lawyer told the Daily News.
Chamberlain’s son said that officers then removed the door from its hinges and immediately Tasered him in the chest. “Why anyone would use a stun gun on a man with a known heart condition is astounding in itself,” the Daily News noted.
A press representative for the district attorney’s office told the Daily White Plains today that recordings shown to the grand jury are not public record, drawing concern from Chamberlain family lawyer Mayo Bartlett.
“They may decide to play some of the tapes, to play part of the tapes, to redact the tapes, or not to play any of the tapes. We can’t control that and we’ll never know,” Bartlett told the paper.
Chamberlain’s son has also expressed frustration that the video and audio recordings haven’t been released to the public.