The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain is a new film from David Midell that was set to make its Mississippi Premiere at the Oxford Film Festival, before the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starring Frankie Faison, the film is a real-time dramatization of the early morning hours of November 19, 2011 in White Plains, NY when Chamberlain, a decorated veteran, accidentally set off a medical alert device which brought officers to his home a little after 5AM….By 7AM, they’d tased him and shot him to death.
The film has won numerous awards including both the Narrative Jury Award and Audience Award at Austin Film Festival; Best Screenplay Award and Audience Award at Las Cruces International Film Festival ; and Audience Choice Award for Best Film at Omaha Film Festival.
On the morning of November 19, 2011, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. (Faison), a 68-year-old African-American army veteran suffering from bipolar disorder, was sleeping peacefully in his apartment when his medical alert system was mistakenly activated. Emergency services, including police officers, were dispatched to check on him. Two hours later, the police officers, who were charged with ensuring Kenneth’s health and safety, shot him to death. What happened in the intervening hours was a harrowing tale of fear, abuse, misunderstanding, and strength in the face of insurmountable odds.
When the police officers arrived, Kenneth informed them that he had mistakenly set off his medical alert. He thanked them for their concern and asked them to leave. The officers refused to leave, and for two hours they taunted Kenneth, ridiculed his military service and howled racial epithets, all as Kenneth struggled to maintain his composure. As the confrontation escalated, despite Kenneth pleading for the officers to leave, they broke down his door, tased him, and finally, shot him to death.
This film is based on a true story. The filmmakers worked with the family of Kenneth Chamberlain and also used court records and trial audio to recreate the events that led to this tragedy.