The sworn police officers of the White Plains Police Benevolent Association issue the following statement in response to the announcement from Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah that her Office intends to review the circumstances regarding the fully-investigated and fully-litigated shooting death of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. on November 19, 2011.
On June 10, 2021, DA Rocah announced that her Office, along with pro bono Special Assistant District Attorneys, will review the facts surrounding the tragic shooting death of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. Without question, the facts underlying the shooting have been established and proven repeatedly: first, they were reviewed in 2012 by a Westchester County Grand Jury empaneled by former Westchester District Attorney and present Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals Janet DiFiore, which completed a thorough and exhaustive investigation into the shooting and determined, conclusively, that Mr. Chamberlain charged at police with a raised butcher knife, forcing an officer to fire his service weapon to save the officer being charged at from being killed by Mr. Chamberlain. The Grand Jury heard from every eyewitness to the shooting – including every police officer who responded to the incident and multiple civilians – and received sworn testimony from forensic experts, crime scene experts, medical experts and ballistics experts. At the conclusion of this presentation, the twenty-three impartial grand jurors determined that the use of force was justified.
Thereafter, on November 16, 2016, following years of intensive fact discovery related to Mr. Chamberlain Jr.’s civil claims of wrongful death, which required the White Plains Police Department to produce every shred of evidence in its possession related to the incident, and required every police officer at the scene to answer hours of questions under oath by Mr. Chamberlain’s highly experienced attorneys, a federal civil rights jury determined the officer was justified in his use of force against Mr. Chamberlain. While the Chamberlain family appealed other aspects of the verdict, they did not appeal the jury’s finding that the officer acted within the limits of the law, or that his use of force was justified. To the contrary, the Chamberlain family effectively conceded that the evidence supported the jury’s verdict that the officer was justified in his actions and that he was not liable to the Chamberlain family for wrongful death.
Finally, on January 4, 2018, the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District Of New York - where DA Rocah previously worked as Chief of the Westchester Division - completed its own independent investigation into the shooting death of Kenneth Chamberlain. Following a detailed and extensive review of the facts and evidence, the U.S. Attorney’s Office determined that the “weight of the evidence” did not warrant criminal charges.The Department of Justice also provided a detailed and extensive recitation of all relevant facts explaining its decision not to pursue a further investigation into the incident.
DA Rocah now claims she is “reviewing” the Chamberlain case once again and ten years later to resolve outstanding “questions” related to the case. The White Plains PBA believes there are no outstanding questions related to this case. Two juries and the federal government have already reviewed the entire body of all of the existing evidence, and have determined that the shooting was justified. The White Plains PBA is not afraid of another review of the facts surrounding this case, but we are concerned about whether or not this new “review” will be fair and impartial. We are confident that if this “review” is unbiased and objective the outcome will undoubtedly be the same.