Autopsy Raises Doubts About Police Account of Kenneth Chamberlain's Death


New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez reports that the autopsy of Kenneth Chamberlain, the former Marine and retired correctional officer who was killed by White Plains police in November, casts doubt on the official story that Chamberlain was brandishing a knife:

Randolph McLaughlin, attorney for Chamberlain's family, said the trajectory of the fatal bullet [fired by Officer Anthony Carelli] suggests Chamberlain was neither facing the police nor holding up a weapon.

"The report clearly shows that Mr. Chamberlain's arm could not have been raised in a threatening manner with a knife at the moment he was shot," McLaughlin told The News on Monday night.

The report, completed Nov. 21 by acting Westchester County Chief Medical Examiner Kunjlata Ashar, shows the fatal bullet struck Chamberlain [who was right-handed] from the side in the "right upper arm, 4½ inches from the right shoulder."

It went through his arm without hitting bone and entered his right chest, "then passed through the upper lobe of right lung … through the thoracic vertebra 4 and then through the upper lobe of left lung," the report said.

"The direction of the wound track is from right to left in a straight line," Ashar wrote. Chamberlain died from hemorrhaging in the lungs….

Because the bullet came from the side, not straight on, the report "makes it impossible for him to be holding a knife in his hand and advancing on police," [McLaughlin] said.

Following a public outcry about the case, the Westchester County District Attorney's Office plans to have a grand jury decide whether criminal charges should be brought against Carelli or the other officers, who were responding to an erroneous call indicating that Chamberlain needed medical assistance.

I discussed the shooting last week.

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  1. No shit. They executed him and concocted a bullshit cover story after the fact. I wish there were an outcry after every single incident like this.

    1. I become outraged “after every single incident like this” and cherish the painful death of police thugs.

  2. I’m sure procedures were followed, so there is nothing to see here, move along, nothing else happened.

    1. Makes sense when you think about it.

    2. I don’t see a problem as long as they followed appropriate use of force protocols.


  3. While I believe this was a bad shoot and “murder-by-cop” this doesn’t prove anything as people twist and try to move out of the way of danger.

    Chamberlain could have been facing the cops and then, upon seeing the gun and wanting to avoid being shot shifted his stance to the one he was in when hit by the round.

    1. And, of course, the coroner never considered that.

      1. After years of reading Balko’s stuff I’m not inclined to give medical examiners the benefit of the doubt.

  4. I don’t even know what to say about these things anymore other than there are just too damn many trigger-happy cops around.

    1. And why not?

      The chances of facing any real consequences for their actions are pretty close to nil.

      1. I think that’s part of it. I also think that the culture supports this sort of thing. Can you think of a cop show where the fuzz **didn’t** execute an arrest warrant by kicking in someone’s door and following up with the ninja platoon? It’s become the norm now.

        1. …following up with the ninja platoon?

          Ninjas use stealth. The word you’re looking for is “stormtrooper”.

          1. I stand corrected.

        2. I also think that the culture supports this sort of thing.

          I think that most of the people who support the police are people who have never been accused of a crime or had a crime committed against them.

        3. It is also the norm now on “cop shows” to bring people in for questioning. Police have the lawful authority to arrest a person when they have evidence of a crime. There is no such lawful authority to bring someone in for questioning.

    2. “Shoot first, don’t even bother asking questions later.”

    3. But remember, SYG is a bad law, because we should rely on people with superior training and judgment to sort these situations out.

  5. the intertube dragons 404ed the Laffer thread 🙁

  6. So if he had been holding a knife but not in a raised position and turned away from the gun, what would the path of the bullet have looked like?

    That isn’t to say the cops aren’t at fault, but I’m not sure this proves as much as claimed though, depending on what the police report said, it may go pretty far in showing them to be liars.

    1. it may go pretty far in showing them to be liars.

      So what? Cops are shown to be liars all the time. It doesn’t matter.

      1. Hell, I wasn’t the one who posted the story and get everyone’s hopes up.


    2. He knew the cops were there. He told the cops to leave. He was killed in his underware. Every house that has a kitchen contains at least one knife that can be planted when a cop commits murder.

  7. One other thing to consider. Every cop wears a bullet proof vest that covers their torso and will easily stop a knife.

    So even if he had a knife and was after them with it, their lives were in no danger.

    1. I would like to offer you a position as a bullet proof vest tester.
      You won’t be in any danger because you will be testing its effectiveness against knives, not bullets.
      Your job will be to stand there impassively as an old man stabs you repeatedly with a kitchen knife.

      You up to it?

      1. Sarcasmic, I would like to offer you the position of standing in your underware and facing this murdering cop after he broke into your home.

    2. Bullet proof /= stab proof.
      You can get them that do both, but those are more expensive.

      “People often assume that a bullet proof vest will also stop a knife based attack, however this is not the case. The way a bullet penetrates a piece of body armor is completely different to the way a knife does. A bullet proof vest has fibers designed to “catch” a bullet, but a knife will cut through those fabrics and not be stopped. A stab proof vest is designed in a different way to a bullet proof vest, and will help protect the wearer from not just knife attacks, but also broken bottles and physical assault.”

      1. I did not know that. Thanks.

        1. Then you also have “spike” protection which is added on top of the other two. Adding the most protection from spikes and stabs will double the cost of the vest. A lot of prison guards will wear the spike vests, to stop shanks.

          1. See, this is where being an RPG nerd pays off. You intuitively assume there is an armor class difference between slashing, piercing, bludgeoning, and missile attacks.

            1. That’s why you go straight to the Magic Missile.

              1. Nothing is resistant to metal.

                /my rpg philosophy, even when it isnt true
                //just hit it harder

        2. Just remember: the slow blade penetrates the shield.

          1. Beat me to it.

      2. so, what you’re saying is, bullets need to be redesigned with sharp edges?

    3. While I don’t think the shooting here was justified, I also don’t think wearing a bullet-proof vest is sufficient protection to say that someone can’t be in reasonable fear for their lives from somebody wielding a knife. The vest doesn’t protect the wearer’s throat or face and in close quarters it’s quite possible to inflict a mortal knife wound in those locations or blind the victim to make it easier to attack them in some other manner.

    4. Kevlar doesn’t stop stabs very well. You have to use a metal insert of some kind if you want knife protection. That makes it heavier, though, and most cops tend to use the lightest armor they can get away with, simply because body armor is uncomfortable.

  8. Just sprinkle some crack on them and move on:

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