Michael Lembhard shot 15 times by Newburgh cops, family says

An autopsy report showed that 22-year-old Michael Lembhard, An autopsy report showed that 22-year-old Michael Lembhard, of Newburgh, was shot more than half a dozen times by Newburgh police -- including eight times in the back -- in a March 7 confrontation in which he was killed, the dead man's family said. This is a screen grab of a file photo of Lembhard. Photo Credit: News12 Westchester

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An autopsy report shows that 22-year-old Michael Lembhard was shot 15 times by Newburgh police -- including eight times in the back -- in a March 7 confrontation in which he was killed, the dead man's family said Thursday.

"We're just shocked," said Edith King, Lembhard's aunt, about the report the family received this week. "We feel they murdered him."

Police have said Lembhard was shot after lunging at police with a knife during an incident at his family's home.

A Newburgh city police spokesman did not immediately return calls Thursday seeking comment.

The office of Orange County District Attorney Frank Phillips also declined to comment, saying the incident was still under investigation.

The Orange County Medical Examiner's office declined to release the autopsy report to the media, saying that the office does not release any reports to the media. A spokesman for Orange County Executive Edward Diana did not return calls seeking comment.

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Ten of the bullets that were fired by police in the confrontation went through Lembhard, five remained in his body, King said.

The shooting touched off protests by Lembhard's family, friends, and other supporters. The family called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the case. Cuomo declined to do so.

The shooting marked the third police shooting death of African-American men in the Hudson Valley in four months.

On Nov. 19, 68-year-old Kenneth Chamberlain was shot dead in his White Plains police following a two-hour standoff at his apartment door. Police said Chamberlain came at them with a knife and a meat cleaver. Officer Anthony Carelli shot Chamberlain to protect the life another officer, Sgt. Keith Martin, after Chamberlain lunged at Martin with a knife, police said.

On Dec. 14, 48-year-old Herve Gilles, who had a history of alcohol abuse and mental illness, was shot dead by a Spring Valley police officer during a fight on a Spring Valley street. Police said Gilles had grabbed Officer John Roper's nightstick and was beating the officer with it, prompting Roper to fire in self-defense.

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In both cases, the families of the dead men disputed police accounts and said they planned to file civil rights lawsuits against police. Both cases were presented to grand juries. A Westchester County grand jury declined May 2 to indict Carelli. A week later, a Rockland County grand jury voted against indicting Roper.

Lembhard was shot March 7 in an incident that began when he ran from officers who spotted him on a Newburgh street, police said. Police had an outstanding warrant for Lembhard's arrest. Police said after the shooting that Lembhard fled into a building and then came at them with a knife. They reacted by opening fire.

Family spokesman Omari Shakur said the family wants to go over the autopsy report with an expert before revealing any more details. He said the family plans to hold a news conference Monday night at Newburgh City Hall before the City Council meets and will announce more of the autopsy's findings then.

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