KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Jackson County grand jury has indicted a Kansas City police detective in the death of Cameron Lamb, a man shot and killed in his backyard.
Det. Eric Devalkenaere has been charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in Jackson County. He has been with the Kansas City Police Department since 1999.
Prosecutors say DeValkenaere shot Lamb, a 26-year-old father of three, on Dec. 3 2019.
According to court documents, Det. Troy Schwalm and DeValkenaere were in the area of 41st and College when they were dispatched to a traffic incident.
A police helicopter had observed a red pickup driving to the area later determined to be Lamb’s home, and the plain clothes deputies both responded to the address.
Schwalm arrived first and didn’t stop to talk to a resident on the porch. Court records say he exited his vehicle, drew his gun and went to the backyard.
According to the jury’s affidavit, neither detective asked for permission to enter the property.
DeValkenaere also had his weapon drawn but stopped to ask who was in the backyard.
Schwalm went up the driveway and came across another man, who wasn’t Lamb, in the backyard. Lamb was driving his pickup into the garage.
Court records say DeValkenaere was on the other side of the house and came into the backyard by knocking over a barbecue grill and car hood.
The jury wrote that Schwalm said he was standing on the driver’s side of the truck and could see Lamb and his left hand. Schwalm said he didn’t have a gun in his left hand and was looking at him, court records say.
But DeValkenaere said he could see both of Lamb’s hands from his position. The detective said his right hand was on the steering wheel and, according to the jury’s affidavit, DeValkenaere saw Lamb slide his left hand down into his waistband, pull a gun and point it at Schwalm.
That’s when DeValkenaere fired his gun.
Court documents say four bullets hit the windshield of Lamb’s pickup truck. Two hit Lamb, killing him.
The pickup rolled backward, into the garage, and Schwalm said he saw Lamb’s body slide toward the passenger’s seat.
When tactical officers entered the garage, they found a gun on the ground beneath Lamb’s left hand where it hung out the driver’s side window.
Medical records say Lamb is right-handed and didn’t have full use of his left hand after an injury, according to the affidavit.
Phone records recovered by the prosecutor’s office show Lamb made a phone call about the time he was shot, court records say.
The call went to voicemail, creating a recording of the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Prosecutors say his phone was right by his side when crime scene technicians processed the scene.
A voice can be heard demanding that Lamb exit the vehicle, show his hands and keep them up.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said DeValkenaere has agreed to turn himself in. Prosecutors have requested a bond of $30,000 at 10%.
The Kansas City Police Department said DeValkenaere has been suspended. The department issued the following statement:
“Today, a grand jury of Jackson County residents indicted a KCPD detective who was involved in the shooting death of Cameron Lamb on Dec. 3, 2019, in the 4100 block of College.
“The detective has been with KCPD since September 1999 and was assigned to the Investigations Bureau. The detective has been suspended.
“The Kansas City Missouri Police Department continues to mourn the loss of life and all suffering surrounding this incident. We respect the judicial process, including the grand jury’s finding in this matter, as well as all defendants’presumption of innocence until proven guilty. As the case makes its way through court, we will continue to respect the process, and therefore cannot comment further at this time.
“As with any officer involved shooting incident, we will internally review the actions taken by officers.”
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #99 issued the following statement following Thursday’s charges:
“The FOP and its 1,500 members fully support Officer DeValkenaere. It is undisputed that the suspect pointed a gun at another officer, which clearly demonstrates that Officer DeValkenaere’s actions were justified. We will devote our resources to helping Officer DeValkenaere and his family.
“Like other cases across the country, this is another example of the Prosecuting Attorney abusing her authority for political gain. We place our trust in the judicial system to correct this wrong and ultimately exonerate this highly decorated officer.”