Senator Robert Jackson, Assemblymember Pamela Hunter, and End QI NY held a VIP screening of The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain for New York state legislators at the Madison Theatre in Albany on Tuesday, May 10. As Spectrum News reports, the acclaimed film is based on the true story of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., the 68-year-old Army vet from White Plains, New York, who was killed by police in November 2011. The officers evaded justice by claiming—and receiving—qualified immunity (QI).
Following the screening, producer Morgan Freeman, lead actor Frankie Faison, director David Midell, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., and others took part in an audience Q&A. The evening honored the Chamberlains and all New York families affected by government wrongdoing, highlighting the need for legislators to pass S 1991, the bill to end QI in New York. Statewide polling has found that 58 percent of New Yorkers favor doing away with the contested doctrine.
“It’s not only important to just say my father’s name, it’s important to remember all families that are impacted by police violence,” said Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., founder of the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform. “So, with this film, I’m hoping, if nothing else, it can be a teaching tool to law enforcement throughout the world in what not to do.”
“It’s now up to states like New York to step up and stop police brutality by ensuring that rogue cops are held accountable,” said Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s and co-chair of the Campaign to End Qualified Immunity. “As Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has said, qualified immunity is a license to shoot first and think later. It disproportionately impacts people of color, and we repeatedly see unarmed Black people, such as Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., abused, maimed, and killed with no accountability for the police.”
“We’re calling for Senator [Andrea] Stewart Cousins and Assemblymember [Carl] Heasties to bring this bill to a floor vote. Qualified immunity is a slap in the face to any families that have suffered great loss at the hands of public officials who’ve acted with impunity,” said Darlene McDay, an impacted mother and co-leader of End QI NY. “New York needs to end qualified immunity at once and for all, to give families their fair chance at finding justice.”
“It’s essential that qualified immunity cease to exist to ensure that all New Yorkers are treated equally under the law,” said Mayo Bartlett, New York attorney. “Affording law enforcement and other governmental employees the ability to bypass constitutional protections places us all at risk.”