07 March 2012

Man shot by rescuers responding to Life Alert

Here's part of the story, as reported in the New York Times:
Somehow the uncle, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., a former Marine who had heart problems and wheezed if he walked more than 40 feet, triggered his Life Alert pendant. The Life Alert operator came on the loudspeaker in his one-bedroom apartment, asking: “Mr. Chamberlain, are you O.K.?” All of this is recorded.

Mr. Chamberlain didn’t respond. So the operator signaled for an ambulance. Police patrol cars fell in behind — standard operating procedure in towns across America. Except an hour later, even as Mr. Chamberlain insisted he was in good health, the police had snapped the locks on the apartment door

They fired electric charges from Tasers, and beanbags from shotguns. Then they said they saw Mr. Chamberlain grab a knife, and an officer fired his handgun
The rest of the story is at the link.  There certainly are extenuating circumstances, some of which are delineated in the article.  Please defer on any comments about 'bringing a knife to a gunfight,' which we'll return to in a later post.


  1. Many home's main entrances are adjacent to the kitchen. How convenient for law enforcement...
    Has me rethinking our Henkel set right there on the counter. "he made a move for the knife so we shot him. You have to believe us because he isn't going to testify and look, he has a knife in his hand".
    I never thought that "more cameras" was an answer but how else will some truth be known?

  2. inb4 FORMER Marine. Not that I give a toss myself, but wait for the knuckle draggers that ordinarily have a difficult time parsing the English language insist on this one meaningless pedantic correction; and you will have to offer them an apology and promise never to make the 'mistake' again.

    1. Thanks for the heads-up, JK. I hadn't even considered that "ex-marine" could be insulting, but I can see the sentiment. I've changed the post title to "man", since his former military service is not directly relevant to the story.

      I appreciate the advice. I won't do it again. Until I forget.

  3. In one of the Punisher movies the hero is down for the count with a knife in his hand. The villain approaches with a gun exclaiming something along the lines of only an idiot brings a knife to a gun fight. This particular knife, though, is spring-loaded. The blade ends up in the villains throat.

  4. Sorry, but after reading the article, I failed to find the "extenuating circumstances".

    1. Agreed.

      And I don't think you make it clear enough that this man was shot to death, 2 bullet wounds to the chest.

    2. It might be appropriate to consider that your life was in jeopardy if you were being charged by a Marine with a butcher knife.

      Just saying.

    3. People have no idea how deadly a knife is, sadly as far as I'm concerned this was justified.

      You would be surprised at how fast a guy with a knife can move and how fast he can kill you dead.

      Sad, mind you, but justified.

  5. Veterans are given preference in being hired to police forces.

    Most veterans these days are veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan - situations where they were patrolling environments where the enemy did not stand out - thus everyone had to be considered an enemy.

    Is it surprising that we are seeing an escalation in assaults on civilians justified by "the officer feared for his life"?

  6. This is only tangentially related, but if one wants some piece of mind without (a) paying Life Alert's extortionate monthly fee and (b) involving the medical/law enforcement system unnecessarily there are other alternatives.

    A number of products exist which are essentially reverse answering machines linked to a panic button on a pendant. They can be programmed to play a prerecorded call for help to an extensive list of predetermined phone numbers (usually of friends and family). They will sequentially call them all in a round-robin fashion until help arrives.

    Some examples of such products.

  7. if someone broke into my house i think i would grab a weapon too


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