Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Shocking and Unnecessary Death of Kenneth Chamberlain

The Trayvon Martin case has deservedly attracted a great deal of attention. One incident that has received far less attention is this November 2011 event in White Plains, New York. 

First things first. My condolences to the Chamberlain family and friends. I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like but I do wish them well. From all that we know, they have every right to be angry and to ask for justice.
So many things about the police version of events in this story are incomprehensible.
  • Who authorized this law enforcement response to a medical emergency? Keep in mind, that Chamberlain had already informed authorities that it had been a false alarm.
  • When did this become Standard Operating Procedure? When did it become standard practice to break down  doors without a warrant and without probable cause?  
  • Even if you put aside the the fact that they killed the man, who even made the decision to use a taser on a man with a heart condition? To use a crowd control device on a individual? (I am not sure how large the Chamberlain home was but surely there are certain distance requirements about its use. 
  • Who is responsible for training at that police department? Nazi Storm troopers? Using racial derogatory remarks by police should be, in itself, a matter for concern by the law enforcement officials. 
  • Since video and audio evidence appears to contradict the official story by the police, how much of what has already been said about Chamberlain's behavior can be trusted? For example, attorneys said video footage shows Chamberlain Sr. was unarmed. Police say he was armed with a knife.
  • Do people no longer have any right to defend themselves in their own home?
  • Would this have happened if the man had been a well-off white man in a upper-class neighborhood?
The 911 call would be interesting to listen too. Was Chamberlain described as a black? if so, why? If not, then  it begs the question: how much of the police response was based on the neighborhood and not the actual circumstances. 

Click here to read the initial reporting of the story from the local newspaper. Clearly it shows how dependent the reporter was on the police version. It is practically a slander on the Chamberlain name. (At the bottom of the article, the reporter/editor does note that this was an initial report and other articles followed. You can judge the fairness of that coverage for yourself by clicking on this link.)
It is perhaps a minor detail that Chamberlain was a former Marine but it does make you wonder how a man who has voluntarily committed his life to defending the nation against enemy threats should be attacked and shot to death by the police of his own country. Have veterans group made any statement about what happened?

And worst of all, if the public had relied on the local newspapers recounting of the event, if there had not been a recording of the incident by the medical service (the very service that was supposed to be there to protect him in a health emergency) if we had only had the police spokespeople to tell us what went on in the Chamberlain home, then none of us would have been the wiser.


What do you think about this case?  As always, I enjoy reading your comments. Be sure to "like" and re-tweet this post, if you have a moment. Thanks.

Update: The New York Times has a very detailed article about this incident which you can find by clicking HERE.

Update (May 4 2012) Here is a video of the police raid. Despite this a grand jury has acquitted the police officers involved in the murder.