Jackson County prosecutor says KCPD asked her not to prosecute detective to help morale

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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 in December.

But Jackson County’s prosecutor said she likely would have been able to announce charges in February with more cooperation from the police department.

Det. Eric Devalkenaere has been charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in Jackson County.

But Jean Peters Baker said she was stonewalled by police in her office’s early efforts to find out more about the case.

She said she requested a probable cause statement in February, two months after Lamb’s death. But she was told by the police department her actions could greatly hurt morale.

“Trust me when I say I wanted to stand at a podium in February, but I couldn’t do that because police simply refused to give me a probable cause statement in this case,” Peters Baker said.

“What I have learned over the past several months is how little influence or reason I hold over that department.”

In a press conference critical of police’s handling of the situation, Peters Baker said she received warnings not to prosecute.

“Warnings have come specifically against me to frankly discourage me from bringing charges in this manner. Here’s what you need to know, those types of statements, warnings, threats have been made to this office,” she said.

“I’ve heard it before, and this is not the first high profile case that I’ve handled. Those threats didn’t work then, and they won’t work now,” she continued.

Earlier this month Mayor Quinton Lucas announced he’d worked with the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners to reverse policies for Kansas City police and hand over probable cause statements.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for the mayor said that covers all requests from the prosecutor’s office, regardless of when the officer involved shooting happened.

But Peters Baker said she still hasn’t received the specific information she’s seeking in the death of Cameron Lamb.

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.”

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