GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. blasted elected officials Saturday afternoon at Greenburgh Town Hall for not publicly speaking up in the wake of his father’s death at the hands of police who went to the man’s door in November.
Chamberlain said he got support from members of the community but not elected officials, with the exception of State Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, who asked for an investigation following the fatal shooting by police.
Assemblyman Robert Castelli, a panelist at a meeting Saturday afternoon in Greenburgh titled “Civil Right and Civil Wrongs,” said he sympathized with the Chamberlain family, adding that he didn’t say anything publicly in the aftermath of the shooting because the case had gone to a grand jury.
“I wanted to make sure the grand jury process was set up and done,” Castelli said. “I would have complained if that didn’t happen. There is no way to replace him, but sometimes it’s appropriate not to say anything. It might hurt the cause instead of helping it.”
Still, Damon Jones, the New York representative for Blacks in Law Enforcement, who was also a panelist in Saturday’s discussion, said the grand jury process is a “fraud.” Many police officers are related to one another, Jones said, which hampers the system. He said an independent investigation would be the right way to go in this case.
“You are telling me seven police officers can’t take down a 68-year-old man,” Jones said. “He was called a (racial slur), then killed, when they had the key to the door.”
Castelli said the grand jury process is as unbiased as human beings can make it, adding that sometimes the process is “flawed.” But Castelli stuck to his point that speaking publicly about the case would cause more harm than good.
Chamberlain said the police officers in that situation were the ones who acted aggressively and said the situation could have been avoided.
“It took nine months to get anything done and they only suspended one officer,” Chamberlain said. “I have a problem with that. We need the right person in office who is not afraid to stand up for us.”