Spectators were shocked when Judge J. Dale Youngs announced a historic verdict.
After a week of testimony from witnesses and a week of deliberation, former Kansas City Police Department detective Eric DeValkenaere was found guilty Friday afternoon of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the shooting of Cameron Lamb.
It’s the first time a KCPD officer has been found guilty of killing a Black man.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Laurie Bey, Lamb’s mother. “I’m happy that the judge followed the law, but I miss my baby and this did not have to be.”
Lamb was shot and killed Dec. 3, 2019 by plain-clothed DeValkenaere, following a disturbance of Lamb’s reported truck chasing a purple Ford Mustang. Officers DeValkenaere and Troy Schwalm followed Lamb’s vehicle to his residence at 4154 College Ave., where they knocked over a grill and car hood to get to the backyard where Lamb was backing into his garage.
DeValkenaere said he saw Lamb pull out a gun and point it at Schwalm. Schwalm said he did not see a gun in Lamb’s hands. At the trial, DeValkenaere testified saying there was not time to deescalate the situation and needed to back up his partner.
Police say Lamb had his left arm and head hanging out of the driver’s side window and on the ground near his left hand was a handgun.
Prosecutors during the trial argued the crime scene was tampered with and evidence planted. The prosecution also argued that DeValkenaere violated the Fourth Amendment when the officers entered the property without a warrant, which makes any actions the officers make unconstitutional and possibly criminal. In that case, prosecutors argued the defense’s self-defense arguments wouldn’t apply.
Youngs agreed with the prosecutors' Fourth Amendment argument and said the officers did not have probable cause enter Lamb’s property and did not have a search warrant or evidence to obtain a search warrant. He added that Lamb had an expectation of privacy while in his backyard.
“Today will not bring (Lamb) back, but this is historic and it means something,” said Lee Merritt, the Lamb's family attorney. “The system has failed this community until now. We have a responsibility to continue to push to identify the failures in KCPD. This family doesn’t see this as a stopping point, but an exclamation point to their federal civil rights claim that we will pursue against the KCPD.”
Lamb’s family and supporters are calling for a federal investigation into KCPD.
“Kansas City will remember the name Cameron Lamb because he will be known as the beginning of the end of the deadly police culture in the modern world,” Merritt said.
After the verdict, KCPD issued this statement:
“Every officer involved shooting is difficult not only for the members in the community, but also the members of the police department. We acknowledge the court’s decision.”
DeValkenaere remains free on bond until his sentencing, which has not been scheduled by the court yet.