KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Cameron Lamb’s mother shuffled out of the courtroom in tears Friday.
A Jackson County judge found Kansas City police Det. Eric DeValkenaere guilty of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the 2019 killing of her son.
“I am happy that the judge saw fit and he followed the law,” Laurie Bey said outside the courthouse. “But I miss my baby, and this just did not have to be. It did not have to be.”
Judge J. Dale Youngs made it clear his decision was a constitutional one, citing privacy and the Fourth Amendment.
Youngs said DeValkenaere and his partner did not have a search warrant to be on Lamb’s property and that Lamb, a 26-year-old father of three, had an expectation of privacy.
The two officers had been responding to a a traffic incident near East 41st Street and College Avenue on Dec. 13, 2019. Police had been following a pickup driving at high speeds after reports it crashed into a car and kept going.
A police helicopter saw a red pickup, believed to have been involved in the incident, turn into Lamb’s garage. The two officers followed Lamb onto his property.
During the trial, DeValkenaere admitted to shooting Lamb, but said it was to protect his partner after Lamb pulled a gun and pointed it at the other officer. DeValkenaere’s partner testified that he didn’t see a weapon in Lamb’s hand.
But Youngs said Friday that DeValkenaere wasn’t acting in self-defense or in the defense of his partner, saying the two officers escalated a situation that had already de-escalated.
“My son at was at his home, and he was minding his own business when they took it upon themselves to go into the backyard,” Bey said.
After the verdict, the Kansas City Police Department issued the following 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.”
A KCPD spokesperson confirmed to FOX4 that DeValkenaere has now been suspended without pay, pending termination.
Lamb’s family said they still have more work to do, to not only honor the memory of their son but also prevent what happened to him from happening to others.
Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who represents the Lamb family, said the guilty verdict was not only a judgment of DeValkenaere’s actions but also of the police department as a whole.
“This was the first conviction of a KCPD officer in its 150 year history. What that means is not that they are somehow free of guilt until now, but the system has failed this community until now,” Merritt said. “And now we have a responsibility to continue to push to identify the failures that exist within KCPD.”
Merritt said the Kansas City Police Department has been insulated by a system that allows the agency to investigate its members after police shootings. He also believes the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners should be dismantled.
Lamb’s family is demanding more than just a guilty verdict. They want to see a federal investigation into the practices and the culture of the Kansas City Police Department.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said he has spoke to some police officers since the verdict, and while some are upset about it, he knows they are dedicated to the city’s safety.
“There are 1,200 police officers in the Kansas City Police Department who go out each day and work hard for our community,” Lucas said. “I know that they will continue to do that because they are committed to this city based on public service and a concern for the safety for our constituents. I do not expect that to change.”