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Culture of Racism at White Plains Police Department?

After months of secrecy surrounding the killing of an unarmed Kenneth Chamberlain in his White Plains apartment--the latest revelation: we now know which officer used a racial slur while his specialized police team worked for more than an hour to break down Chamberlain's door.

And while we know who the officer is, what's being covered up by the White Plains Police Department is whether he has been disciplined, is there a policy against racial slurs, or even if he still patrols the same neighborhood he defiled with his vulgar language.

The beleaguered White Plains Police Department was given another black eye today when it was revealed the officer who used a racial slur on the morning Kenneth Chamberlain was killed has never been disciplined.

Family attorney Randolph McLaughlin of the Newman Ferrera Law Firm described the audio tapes he listened to in the District Attorney's office, "He was tapping on his window, saying, 'Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Chamberlain. Stop. We have to talk, "N".' It's clear as a bell that the N-word came right out of his mouth."

Damon Jones, a corrections officer who speaks on behalf of other law enforcement members through his Blacks in Law Enforcement in America group spelled it out. "It's a travesty. Commissioner Chong, the head of the Public Safety Division of White Plains, which includes the police department, should be held accountable because he should have disciplined him immediately when he found out who called Mr. Chamberlain the N word."

The offensive language came from White Plains Police Officer Steven Hart, according to the District Attorney's transcripts. And he's also facing a federal civil rights lawsuit, filed just days after Chamberlain's death, for unlawfully arresting a local man, Edgar Maraud, slamming his head to the ground, breaking his nose, and injuring his arm. The Chamberlain's family attorney says it shows a culture of tolerance for racism and brutality in White Plains.

"It's really troubling that in 2012 the city of White Plains sees fit to hire and retain officers who are alleged to brutalize, falsely arrest suspects and kill them without cause and use racial slurs," said McLaughlin.

Jones furthered his condemnation of the city's leadership saying, "The mayor has not stepped in and called them accountable for the actions of officer and of management."

While a grand jury is still considering murder charges in Chamberlain's death against Officer Anthony Carelli, who fired the 2 fatal shots, and Officer Hart, others from their unit are being called to testify. When asked about policies prohibiting the use of slurs, or punishment by the White Plains PD, they would only say they "cooperated fully with the Westchester Country District Attorney's...investigation."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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