In SummaryThe 2019 conviction marks the second time a Kansas City police officer was charged with the death of a Black man since 1942.
A white Kansas City police officer was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the fatal shooting of a Black man on Friday.
In the case, Jackson County Judge Dale Youngs said officer Eric DeValkenaere planted evidence against Cameron Lamb, 26, who was shot and killed by DeValkenaere.
DeValkenaere has been suspended without pay pending termination.
On Dec. 3, Lamb was shot while backing into his garage after chasing his girlfriend’s convertible in a stolen pickup truck.
The tragic night started when police were investigating a crash, with reports coming in about a red pickup truck chasing a purple Ford Mustang. Lamb was driving the pickup truck.
DeValkenaere and his partner Troy Schwalm followed the cars and saw Lamb backing his pickup into the garage in the rear of the house.
Schwalm testified that he believed Lamb was trying to hide his truck after the chase. Both DeValkenaere and Schwalm were in plain clothes and did not ask for permission to walk onto the property or have a warrant.
Prosecutors in the case said no one at home dialed 911 or anyone was hurt at the home.
DeValkenaere and Schwalm, members of the violent offender squad tasked with preventing and interfering with violent crimes, testified it was his duty to go check out the home.
Roberta Merritt, who lived with Lamb, testified the detectives were not given permission to approach the home.
Merritt said DeValkenaere pointed his gun at her as he walked towards the back of the home.
Schwalm testified in court that Lamb had his left hand on the steering wheel and “flayed out his fingers.” Schwalm then told Lamb to get out of the vehicle. Soon after, Schwalm said DeValkenaere yelled, “He’s got a gun. He’s got a gun.”
“I’m thinking I can’t let this happen, I can’t let him shoot Troy,” DeValkenaere told the court.
DeValkenaere fired four gunshots, which smashed through the front windshield and struck Lamb in the chest and upper torso.
He testified he fired the shots because he saw Lamb point the weapon at his partner.
Schwalm initially told investigators Lamb was not armed, but said during the trial “I was involved with someone who tried to kill me.”
Prosecutors said the two detectives staged the shooting scene to corroborate their story that Lamb was armed.
Lamb had his left hand on the truck’s steering wheel and his cellphone in his right hand.
Another officer testified he didn’t see a gun when he first arrived to the scene. A gun was later found and taken in police photographs.
Merritt testified Lamb kept a gun found by investigators close to his body on the third stair from the bottom of a stairway. The stairway led to the basement, which was near the garage.
Prosecutors then said the gun was moved from that location and placed near his left hand after he was shot.
When Lamb’s body was taken to the morgue, two bullets were found in his pocket.
However, those bullets were not found at the crime scene. Prosecutors also questioned why would a right-handed Lamb use his left hand to pull a gun.
“I miss my baby and this just did not have to be,” said Lamb’s mother, Laurie Bey. “It did not have to be. My son was at his home and he was minding his own business when they took it upon themselves to go into the backyard. He was very needed not only to his family, but to the community.”
DeValkenaere is free on bond until he is sentenced. A sentencing hearing hasn’t been scheduled.
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