KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — Kansas City Police Detective Eric DeValkenaere was convicted of manslaughter by Jackson County Judge J. Dale Youngs in the shooting death of Cameron Lamb.
Lamb was shot and killed in December 2019 while backing up a truck in a garage of a house where he lived.
Judge Youngs said he returned a guilty verdict because DeValkenaere and his partner were the first attackers and were not acting in self-defense when following Lamb onto private property.
Youngs said they were not allowed to be on the property, did not have a warrant, and did not make an arrest.
He said they didn’t have an emergency because the chase Lamb was involved in was over.
“When the accused followed Sergeant Schwalm into the courtyard of 4154 College and hired Cameron Lamb, ultimately shooting him dead, he did so without considering or being aware of the substantial and unjustifiable risks associated with this conduct, including, but not limited to, the fact that he and Sergeant Schwalm were illegally on the property, that they both worsened a situation that had previously calmed down, and their actions created or exacerbated the risk ” , said Youngs.
Lamb’s family were moved after the decision:
– Greg Payne (@ GregKCTV5) November 19, 2021
Jackson County District Attorney Jean Peters Baker said his team had worked diligently on the case.
“There is a sadness that accompanies all verdicts,” she said. “We all leave the courthouse… someone is missing around the dining room table. There is another person who is in danger of being punished for the wrong that has been done.”
Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, said “today is not a day to celebrate,” but remember Lamb instead.
“By condemning Officer DeValkenaere, Kansas City is sending a signal to all police officers that the days of murdering black people with impunity are over, they will be held accountable,” she said. integrity. We deeply appreciate that justice has been served by the court ruling, but today is not a day to celebrate. Rather, it is time for the dark remembrance of Cameron Lamb and all the lives lost to police violence. It is time to re-dedicate ourselves to building a community of trust that keeps all Americans safe. “
The Kansas City Police Department posted this response:
Every officer involved in the shooting is difficult not only for members of the community, but also for members of the police department. We take note of the Court’s decision.
Police said in a statement that following the verdict, DeValkenaere was suspended without pay pending his dismissal.
Testimony during the trial
The defense argued during the trial that DeValkenaere should be found not guilty as officers had reasonable suspicions and a duty to investigate Lamb because he was chasing another vehicle driven by a woman Lamb dated at a speed of 60 at 90 miles an hour.
Defense attorney Dawn Parsons said DeValkenaere was doing its job. She said a vehicle going at 60 to 90 mph, weaving through other lanes of traffic and passing a red light was as dangerous as a bullet.
Prosecutors argued officers had no evidence of a crime, warrant or permission to be on private property. They also said Lamb had limited use of his left hand due to an injury in 2015 and later suggested that the weapon and ammunition may have been placed throughout the trial.
– Greg Payne (@ GregKCTV5) November 19, 2021
Dr David Clymer, an orthopedic surgeon, said Lamb likely could have used his left hand. Clymer said he reviewed medical records and watched social media videos posted to Lamb.
The trial included moving testimony from prosecution and defense witnesses. DeValkenaere stood up for him, while Lamb’s mother spoke up.
DeValkenaere said he saw Lamb draw a gun and raise it towards the Kansas City Police Sgt. Troy Schwalm, his partner. He said he wouldn’t have shot Lamb if Lamb hadn’t pointed the gun at his Schwalm.
Lamb’s mother took over the booth and posted photos of her son. The photos included Lamb with his children.
In its motion for an acquittal judgment, the defense said the state “has failed to prove the elements of the crime alleged in the indictment” and “has failed to establish with evidence that responds to to the requirements of submission to the jury in a criminal case that the defendant committed the alleged offense with the required mental state.
In its response to this request, the state argued that DeValkenaere “did not advertise himself as a police officer” and then fired his gun four times at Lamb. They also claim that cellphone records show Lamb was on the phone with one hand and showed Schwalm the other hand.
The case received national attention
The case was among those cited by a group of civil rights organizations in a petition urging U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the Kansas City Police Department.
It was a case often cited in protests across Kansas City.
Lamb’s family also met former President Donald Trump in 2020 at the White House.
The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, which helps support the legal defense of police officers who the organization says are wrongly accused, came to the aid of DeValkenaere.
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