On Friday (Nov. 19), a Jackson County, Missouri judge found a white Kansas City police detective guilty of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the 2019 deadly shooting of a 26-year-old Black man. According to NPR’s Kansas City affiliate KCUR, the officer, 43-year-old Eric DeValkenaere, unlawfully shot and killed Cameron Lamb while he was sitting in his pickup truck in his driveway on Dec. 3, 2019.
The outlet states DeValkenaere is believed to be the first Kansas City law enforcement officer since 1942 to have been found guilty of shooting a Black man and perhaps, the first to face legitimate consequences. The Kansas City Police Department suspended the disgraced 20-year veteran without pay after he was convicted.
“Every officer involved shooting is difficult not only for the members in the community, but also the members of the police department,” said Donna Drake, a spokeswoman for the KCPD, in an email to KCUR.
The four-day bench trial concluded with the presiding Judge J. Dale Youngs’ decision. While defense lawyers argued that DeValkenaere had probable cause to enter Lamb’s property, Youngs ruled that Lamb had “an expectation of privacy on his property” and that DeValkenaere and his partner, Sgt. Troy Schwalm, had no justification to enter. Youngs stated neither Sgt. Schwalm nor Detective DeValkenaere had an arrest warrant, or a search warrant on Dec. 3, 2019 and neither had probable cause to obtain the warrants.
“Based on the court’s review of the law and the facts, the court concludes that the backyard and particularly the carport were within the curtilage,” Youngs said. “And the occupants demonstrated a reasonable expectation of privacy.” Schwalm was not charged in the case. But his partner testified during the trial that he shot Lamb after seeing him brandish a gun. He said he feared that Lamb would shoot his partner. However, prosecutors refuted DeValkenaere’s claims and suggested Lamb’s gun was taken from inside his home and planted on him, according to The Kansas City Star.
Per Missouri law, DeValkenaere faces a maximum 10-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter and maximum 15-year sentence for his armed criminal action charge. He remains free on bond as he awaits his sentencing. Lamb’s family has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against DeValkenaere and the KCPD Board of Police Commissioners in civil court, KCUR reports.