Friday, April 6, 2012
Former Marine Shot Dead In His Own Home By Police
This past November a 68 year old former Marine named Kenneth Chamberlain accidentally set off his medical alert necklace in the middle of the night. Police responded to the emergency, knowing that it was a medical check-in, yet somehow Chamberlain ended up being shot and killed by the police.
When the police arrived Chamberlain refused to open the door but told the officers that he was fine and that he set off the alarm by accident. For some reason that wasn't enough. The police demanded that he open the door. At one point the door was cracked open slightly, enough so that officers could see Chamberlain but they still demanded that the door be opened. Chamberlain refused. The officers took the door off the hinges and shot Chamberlain with a Taser. That must not have worked because they then shot him with a beanbag shotgun. Eventually things escalated to the point where Chamberlain was shot with a regular gun and killed.
The intriguing thing about this case is that the majority of the altercation was captured on audio and/or video. The medical alert company makes an audio recording whenever a client sets off the alarm. Apparently the majority of the entire incident was audio recorded. Also, the Taser that the police used was equipped with a camera so there is quite a bit of footage from that as well. Unfortunately for us neither of these recordings has been made public. To add even more layers to the case people who have heard the audio say that the police called Chamberlain a racial slur and even mocked the fact that Chamberlain was a Marine. During the confrontation Chamberlain can be heard saying "Semper Fi" to which one of the officers made a wisecrack remark. Another troubling issue is that there is a record of the medical company telling police dispatch to cancel the call for an ambulance because Chamberlain reported that everything was ok (I assume this occured before the police showed up). I read one report where the police dispatch informed the officers that the ambulance had been called off yet they still carried on.
Of course until the tapes are released or this case goes to trial all of this is pure speculation. So far we've only heard what family members allege that they heard when they were allowed to listen to/view the tapes and the official police response to the story. I'm guessing that this was a hostile confrontation. Chamberlain may have even been being difficult. But that does not give the police the right to bust down a private citizens door and shoot him!
While this is a tragedy that deserves discussion here on our class blog I actually have ulterior motives writing about this story. There was a recent blog post by another student blasting the media for over-sensationalizing certain stories. After reading the post I came away feeling that the author felt that the media puts law enforcement officers and the justice system in an unfavorable light all too often. I wanted to write a blog countering that point. Law enforcement is also known for using the media to their advantage. I've seen my local media call all sorts of crimes "gang related" when I'm almost certain that they are not. I've also noticed that when the police are involved in a controversy they will use the media to paint the accused citizen, or victim, out to be a savage. Or they lie. In Chamberlain's case they're saying that he attacked the officer with a knife. I've also heard that he attacked them with a hatchet! The hatched thing sounds so far fetched to me because Chamberlain lived in a housing project in White Plains, New York. I suppose that it is not beyond the realm of possibility but I have never met anyone from the projects who owned a hatchet!
I think that the fact that the police department didn't release the name of the officer who shot Chamberlain until just this week is telling. Especially since that officer is set to go on trial later this month for a 2008 incident where he beat up two Jordanian brothers and called them "rag heads."
Posted by Aaron at 8:43 PM