Racially-Motivated Killing the Media Missed? NY Police Called Out on Medical Alert Shoot Dead 68 Year Old Black Veteran
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Looking at it as a former prosecutor, whenever you talk about a use of force, you always look at a use of force continuum, and it’s an escalation of force. And generally, police departments have rules and protocols which suggest that you should first start out with a verbal command, if in fact there’s even a need to do that and if that’s the least intrusive manner that you can address an issue. And after that, it goes generally to a light hands application, and it goes up from there to possibly a baton, pepper spray, possibly a taser. And you use deadly force only when it’s necessary to prevent deadly force from being used.
And in this case, Mr. Chamberlain didn’t have a gun. Mr. Chamberlain, when I saw the videotape, did not have a knife when he was in his apartment. You see a 68-year-old man with no shirt on and boxer shorts and his hands down at his sides. And I didn’t see any weapon in his hands there.
And the other thing that’s troubling to me is the fact that a taser was used at all, because you’re there for a medical response. You’re not there investigating a criminal act. You are there with the understanding that there may be a person who needs medical assistance.
AMY GOODMAN: For a man with a heart condition, no less.
MAYO BARTLETT: Absolutely. And so, if you understand that, to use a taser, which is going to send significant electricity through that person’s body, would be, at best, reckless. And that alone could cause his death. And the thing that’s extremely troubling to me is that, again, the police were not there to respond to criminal activity. They went to the gentleman’s house at 5:00 in the morning to give him assistance. The only reason that he had the LifeAid pendant to begin with was so that his family and that he would be comfortable that if something was to occur, he would be able to get assistance.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to read part of the initial news coverage around the killing of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr. The headline on the News 12 website read, quote, "Officer fatally shoots hatchet-wielding man." TheDailyWhitePlains.com website posted an article titled "Police Fatally Shoot Disturbed Man Carrying Knife." The story begins, quote, "White Plains police say an officer discharged two rounds, fatally shooting an emotionally disturbed White Plains man who attempted to bar officers from entering his apartment with a hatchet and then turned towards police with a butcher’s knife." Randy McLaughlin, would you respond to this?
RANDOLPH McLAUGHLIN: Well, first, one of the problems in a wrongful death case like this is, you’ve got a decedent, the person who’s dead, and the police initially put out their spin. And that’s a spin. That’s clearly a spin. The videotape had—there’s also a videotape of what happened in that hallway. There’s an audio tape. There’s a videotape of Mr. Chamberlain when they come at him with the taser. This is a clear violation of criminal law and of constitutional rights. In our country, we have a Fourth Amendment that says we’re supposed to be secure in our own homes. Mr. Chamberlain wasn’t attacking anyone. He was in his home. This idea that they—he attacked anyone with a hatchet is, frankly, a lie. That’s what it is. It’s a cover story to cover up what they’ve done here. And we’re meeting with the district attorney this afternoon, of Westchester County, to press for a full prosecution of the highest crimes in this state. There’s a petition, and online petition, that Mr. Chamberlain has put out, and we’re presenting that petition to her today, as well.