Last night I attended the White Plains premiere of the movie The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain at the City Center 15 Cinema De Lux. The movie is based on a real-life event where the White Plains Police killed Kenneth Chamberlain on November 19, 2011. The movie was directed by David Midell and produced by Enrico Natale.
A LifeAid medical alert necklace was inadvertently triggered, police came to his home and demanded that he open his front door. Despite his objections and statements that he did not need help, the police broke down Chamberlain’s door, tasered, shot him with a bean bag shotgun, and then fatally shot him. According to police reports, Mr. Chamberlain charged him with a knife.
Kenneth Chamberlain was a 68-year-old black, retired Marine and a 20-year veteran of the Westchester County Department of Corrections. He wore the medical alert pendant due to a chronic heart problem.
Actor Frankie Fazion starred as Kenneth Chamberlain and brought to life a real-life event and much need awareness of the effects of mental illness and the need for professionally trained people to intercede in these types of incidents.
This movie reminds you of the need for police reform and that the police should not be used for mental health checks or crisis intervention, especially when the officers are not adequately trained for those calls that do not necessary require a badge and a gun to answer.
Having officers trained to deal with the Mentally ill would sound like common sense when every year, more than 1 in 5 New Yorkers has symptoms of a mental disorder. Moreover, in any year, 1 in 10 adults and children experience mental health challenges severe enough to affect work, family, and school life.
To this day, even after all the police reform rhetoric from New York local, state and county officials, the majority of Officers are not trained in proper de-escalation in dealing with the mentally ill, let alone de-escalation when using physical force or deadly physical force.
Almost ten years later, the Chamberlain family is still fighting for justice. Even through the political silence of of elected officials, The silence or high profile civil rights leaders because they didn’t get paid, the Chamberlain family stood tall. And because of their fight a movie is born – Executive Produced by Morgan Freeman – the world will see why there is a dire need to address police violence and accountability of those who are paid to protect and serve us.
Unfortunately, we have already seen push back or negative comments about the movie, questioning if the movie is accurate. I will say as it was said on Facebook in regards to the movie and it’s accuracy, the only thing that wasn’t accurate is that there was an officer that actually cared.
Instead of the usual police rhetoric, this movie should be used so officers will be taught not to do. Reimaging policing or any proposed criminal justice reform should include this film as a learning moment.
In this incident particularly, I have followed this case personally and professionally as an Law Enforcement officer of 32 years; court records, life alert audio and conversations with his son Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. The only one in control and who tried to de-escalate the situation that night of November 19, 2011, was Mr. Chamberlain.
The Killing Of Kenneth Chamberlain comes out Friday, September 17, 2021 and is showing at City Center 15 Cinema De Lux in White Plains. Everyone should see this movie!