EXCLUSIVE: Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment has become attached as executive producers to The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain, an indie feature about the brutal 2011 shooting of a 68-year old Black man by the White Plains, NY, police after they responded to his accidentally triggered LifeAid medical alert.
The movie, which made its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival last October and recently played the American Black Film Festival, was brought to the attention of the Oscar-winning Freeman and Emmy-nominee McCreary by former Revelations executive Andrew Whitney. Revelations is currently fielding interest for the film from distributors.
The gripping minute-by-minute drama, which was independently financed, was made with the cooperation of the Chamberlain family and stars Do the Right Thing, Silence of the Lambs and Banshee actor Frankie Faison as Chamberlain.
For those who are outraged and perplexed over the brutal shooting of Jacob Blake, and the killing of George Floyd, and often wonder how these situations with the cops take a turn for the worst, The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain is a haunting account of the excessive and brutal force too often executed by the police in their response to emergency calls and non-threatening situations.
“It’s the kind of movie that Morgan and I look forward to supporting,” says McCreary. “We cannot allow more George Floyd’s to happen; that’s why we’re having the conversation today.”
“I wanted to explore how these types of situations spin out of control in real time,” says David Midell who wrote, directed and produced The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain. “The film takes place over a period of 80 minutes, which is roughly the same period of time that the incident elapsed.”
Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. was fatally shot by the White Plains, NY, police on November 19, 2011 after they responded to the 68-year-old’s LifeAid medical alert, which he accidentally set off during the early-morning hours. Chamberlain, a retired Marine and 20-year veteran of the Westchester County Department of Corrections who also suffered from chronic heart problems, told the police through the door that he didn’t require assistance, and asked them to leave. They refused to leave unless Chamberlain opened the door. Chamberlain even communicated with the LifeAid operators to instruct the police to leave, but the situation escalated with the police breaking down Chamberlain’s door, tasering him and ultimately shooting him twice in the chest.
The police claimed Chamberlain charged at them with a butcher knife, but Chamberlain’s family claims the elderly man was unarmed; that his Fourth Amendment rights were being violated. In fact, Chamberlain even had a niece in the building, who is also portrayed in the film, who attempted to be a go-between for her uncle and the police to ease the situation; the cops dismissed her requests to assist. Chamberlain’s LifeAid device recorded the details of the shooting including one officer’s racial slurs.
A 2012 grand jury found there were no criminal charges to be made against the police in the killing. Federal prosecutors also decided not to bring charges. However, this past June, the Chamberlain family did see some justice when a 2nd Circuit of Appeals ruled that a federal judge was wrong to dismiss parts of a lawsuit against the police for excessive use of force. The court found that the lawsuit presented sufficient allegations that “a reasonable, experienced officer would not be justified in believing that entry into the apartment was necessary.”
Having been a special education teacher, Midell has experience in responding sensitively to crisis situations. “The more I realized how terribly unprepared these officers are now in handling situations like this, that’s what inspired me to make this film,” says the filmmaker.
Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. tells Deadline: “My family and I would like to thank Morgan Freeman, Lori McCreary, Gary Lucchesi, and Revelations Entertainment for their part in the movie The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain. Since the tragic death of George Floyd there has been a nationwide movement focusing on the injustices that plague Black communities and to have Revelations Entertainment help in telling the injustice that happened to my family tells me they are committed to affecting positive change, which is desperately needed in today’s world.”
Says McCreary, “The important thing about this film is the message and the conversation that will come from someone seeing the film, and the minds that are changed.”