The opening quote, above, was related to us by Kenneth Chamberlain Jr, when he appeared on the “Democracy Now!” news hour talking about the police killing of his father. Chamberlain Jr was holding on to the LifeAid pendant that his father wore around his neck in case of a medical emergency. Perhaps unbeknown to the White Plains police who arrived at Chamberlain Sr’s door that morning, the LifeAid system includes a box in the home that, when activated, transmits audio to the LifeAid company, where it is recorded. Chamberlain Jr and his lawyers heard the recording in a meeting at the office of the Westchester county district attorney, Janet DiFiore.
Chamberlain Jr repeated what he heard his father say on the tape: “He says, ‘I’m a 68-year-old man with a heart condition. Why are you doing this to me?’ … You also hear him pleading with the officers again, over and over. And at one point, that’s when the expletive is used by one of the police officers.” One of Chamberlain Jr’s lawyers, Mayo Bartlett, told me about the racial slur. Bartlett is a former Westchester county prosecutor, so he knows the ropes. He was explicit in recounting what he heard on the recording.
“Kenneth Chamberlain Sr said to the police, ‘I’m a sick old man.’ One of the police officers replied, ‘We don’t give a fuck, nigger!’” The recording also includes a taunt from the police, as related by Bartlett, “Open the door, Kenny, you’re a grown-ass man!” It was when Chamberlain Jr related how the police mocked his father’s military service that he broke down. “He said, ‘Semper fi.’ So they said, ‘Oh, you’re a marine. Hoo-rah. Hoo-rah.’ And this is somebody that served this country. Why would you even say that to him?” Chamberlain Jr wept as he held his father’s marine ring and veterans administration card.