Judge denies request that jurors in wrongful death trial against White Plains police be kept away from protesters
The judge handling the lawsuit filed by relatives of a 68-year-old man shot to death by White Plains cops in 2011 rejected a defense request that the jurors in the upcoming Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. trial be kept away from protesters and housed in an “undisclosed location.”
Judge Cathy Seibel did not immediately rule on a defense request to bar people from wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts and buttons in the Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. wrongful death case. Instead, she told the lawyers to submit motions.
Jury selection in what will be a closely watched trial starts Monday.
Chamberlain Sr. was fatally shot in November 2011 after cops arrived to check on him at his apartment.
Cops claim Chamberlain Sr. came at them with a knife after they shot him with beanbag rounds and shocked him with a Taser. Police Officer Anthony Carelli fired the fatal shots.
But Kenneth Chamberlain Jr.’s lawyers says they believe Chamberlain Sr. was terrified of the police and was lying on the floor when he was shot.
Siebel took the unusual step of ordering the White Plains Police Chief Anne FitzSimmons to be deposed by the Chamberlain family lawyers.
She ordered the deposition at the lawyers request to determine whether the city of White Plains improperly withheld DNA results from discovery.
As the Daily News reported Sunday, the results show that Chamberlain’s DNA was most likely not on the handle of the knife recovered at the scene.
Debra Cohen, a lawyer for the family, said they have a document in which police ask the county medical examiner to test the knife for DNA.
Notes from the Police Department’s internal investigation indicate that FitzSimmons examined the Medical Examiner’s reports.
“If the White Plains Police Department had this DNA report in their files and failed to turn it over, they can be sanctioned,” said Cohen of the firm Newman Ferrara.
“If we knew about it earlier, we would have gotten our own DNA experts to test it against the police officers who were there.”
None of the police officers were tested for DNA, she said.
A source close to the defense said last week that they were not aware of the results, and disputed the claim that the DNA likely does not match Chamberlain Sr.
On Monday, Seibel allowed autopsy photos in as evidence but told the lawyers to minimize their gruesomeness.
She will also allow jurors to hear a 90-minute tape recording of Chamberlain’s encounter with police in November 2011.
But she decided not to allow an enhanced recording of one officer using a racial slur during the deadly encounter.
The jurors will be able to hear the slur in the longer tape, but it may not be completely audible.
She also ruled that all three segments of audio and video recorded by a camera on a Taser will be seen by the jury.
Lawyers for the city and Carelli had only wanted the third video shown.
The judge will ask prospective jurors about their views on Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter.
The judge will not allow a Veteran’s Administration psychiatrist and a heart doctor who had treated the former marine to testify.
“It’ll be clear to the jury that he was not capable of this gymnastic feat the police say he was performing,” Cohen said. “To believe their version of the story, Chamberlain would have to be superman flying at low altitude.”
Seibel did not immediately decide whether to allow testimony from an expert for the defense who will say gun shots are not immediately painful.
Lawyers for the defense also cited Sunday’s Daily News article in griping that Cohen and her law partner, Randolph McLaughlin, were talking to reporters.
“The city of White Plains has a problem with the First Amendment,” McLaughlin said.
White Plains officials did not respond to a request for comment.