Court Ruling Agrees with Chamberlain Family: White Plains Police Officers Unlawfully Entered and
WHITE PLAINS, NY -- (06.08.2020) -- Before Minneapolis police officers caused the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, White Plains police officers caused the death of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr. on November 19, 2011. In response to the killing, the Estate of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr. filed suit against the officers and the City of White Plains, alleging claims of unlawful entry and excessive force. A recently issued court ruling gives the Estate an opportunity to breathe, for a moment. The facts of the Chamberlain case are not disputed. The 68-year-old African-American Marine Corps veteran and retired correction officer, accidentally activated his Life-Aid medical-alert device. After being unable to contact Chamberlain, the Life Aid operator alerted city officials and warned them of his mental illness. An ambulance and police squad car were dispatched. When officers arrived at Chamberlain’s city-owned apartment, he denied the officers entry, fearing he would be shot by the armed officers. After an hour-long struggle to gain entry into the apartment, heavily armed officers with tactical gear forced their entry into Chamberlain’s home by removing the apartment door from its hinges. After crossing the threshold into the apartment, and failing to subdue Chamberlain with a Taser, the officers fatally shot him twice. On June 1, 2020, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals restored previously settled claims related to unlawful entry and excessive force. The Court’s decision served as a long fought victory for the Chamberlain Estate. The decision also included several questions about the police officers’ conduct; “What factors and reasoning supported the officers’ decision to force entry when they did, rather than seek to de-escalate the situation before doing so? Why were Chamberlain’s close relatives, one of whom was on site, not employed by the police in an attempt to resolve the confrontation without bloodshed? Why did the officers enter the apartment with a Taser, handguns, and a beanbag shotgun if they were there to administer emergency medical aid?” Moving forward, answers to the questions will impact the case. As protests stemming from the homicide of George Floyd persist, so too will the Chamberlain family. The Floyd and Chamberlain families are aware that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” -- Rev. Martin L. King, Jr. Randolph M. McLaughlin, Esq., Danielle B. Sullivan, Esq., and Debra S. Cohen, Esq. of Newman Ferrara LLP (www.nfllp.com) represent the Chamberlain Family. John M. Flannery, Esq., Peter A. Meisels, Esq., and Lalit K. Loomba, Esq. of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, LLP (www.wilsonelser.com) represent the former officers. The decision can be downloaded: https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca2/16-3935/16-3935-2020-06-01.html.