WESTCHESTER COUNTY, New York (WABC) -- Westchester County District Attorney Miriam Rocah announced a review Thursday into the controversial police shooting deaths of Danroy Henry and Kenneth Chamberlain.
Former Federal Judge John Gleeson will assist in the review of the shootings themselves as well as the subsequent handling of the cases by the Westchester District Attorney's Office.
Danroy Henry, Jr., known as DJ, was killed on October 17, 2010, when officers shot at his moving vehicle.
He was 20 years old and a student at Pace University.
"In the 3,088 days since our son was killed, we have simply asked for an objective review of the absolute truth surrounding his killing," parents Danroy Henry, Sr., and Angella Henry said in a statement. "We welcome today's news as a necessary and overdue step which we hope will lead to some more just outcome."
Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., a 68-year-old former U.S. Marine who suffered from mental illness, was shot and killed in his home on November 19, 2011, following a confrontation with White Plains police after they responded to an accidental medical alert.
"My family and I are pleased that the matter is being reviewed by the Westchester County DA's office," son Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr., said. "After 10 years, we believe there may never be actual justice for my father, but we are hopeful that there will be some accountability in the killing of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. In my opinion this is a big step toward building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve."
At points during the confrontation, Chamberlain possessed a knife.
"For the families of Kenneth Chamberlain and DJ Henry, the pain of their loss has not gone away over the past 10 years, nor have the questions they have about why their loved ones were killed," Rocah said. "The Chamberlain and Henry families and many members of the Westchester community have asked me to review the circumstances of the shootings, the investigation and charging decisions by the DA's Office, and the grand juries' decision not to return indictments in either case. Today, I am announcing that I will do exactly that."
In the months following these two incidents, the Henry and Chamberlain shootings were reviewed by prosecutors who ultimately presented evidence and witnesses to grand juries, whose role was to determine whether that evidence was sufficient to support the criminal charges that prosecutors presented.
"Some may ask, why look backwards?" Rocah said. "The reason is simple: Today, we have appropriately higher expectations have for scrutiny of police encounters with mentally ill and unarmed people and for prosecutors' responses to such incidents. The Henry and Chamberlain families and our community have felt strongly that further independent review is needed to heal the open wounds from these shootings. It is in that spirit that this review will be undertaken."
In both cases, no indictment was returned by the grand juries, and the proceedings were automatically sealed by the court.
"I want to be very clear," Rocah said. "While I have chosen to conduct this review, I am in no way pre-judging the outcome. At this point, I cannot say whether any further action should be taken. I can say that further action beyond the review will only be taken if the facts and law warrant it. I will make the final determination on what, if any, additional steps are appropriate."
The current reviews will be conducted internally by designated Assistant District Attorneys and investigators who Rocah have selected for this task, with the assistance of a team of pro bono attorneys led by Judge Gleeson.
"Because the District Attorney's Office played a central role in the original investigation and presentation to the grand juries, I believe that having Judge Gleeson participate in the review and make recommendations to me is the best way to proceed," Rocah said. "Judge Gleeson's record as a federal judge has earned him widely-held respect and a reputation for fairness and integrity, which I saw firsthand when I served as a law clerk for him many years ago. I am so pleased that he agreed to take on this important task."
There is no set timetable for completion of the review process.
"It is a privilege to assist in this important undertaking," Judge Gleeson said. "Our team looks forward to examining the circumstances of these two shootings, as well as the investigations of them and the evidence presented to the grand juries, and making an independent recommendation to DA Rocah concerning how best to proceed."
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