KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Jackson County judge found Kansas City police Det. Eric DeValkenaere guilty of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the 2019 shooting death of Cameron Lamb.
Judge J. Dale Youngs issued the verdict Friday afternoon, one week after DeValkenaere’s trial ended.
Youngs made it clear his decision was a constitutional one, citing privacy and the Fourth Amendment.
“They are not loopholes for criminals or suggestions that may simply be ignored for purposes of expediency or convenience,” Youngs said. “Rather these protections are fundamental to the effort to preserve our freedom as citizens.”
Before issuing his verdict, Youngs said DeValkenaere and his partner had no probable cause to be in Lamb’s garage and did not have a search warrant or evidence to obtain a search warrant.
DeValkenaere and his partner were called the Lamb’s neighborhood to a traffic incident near East 41st Street and College Avenue on Dec. 13, 2019. 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.
Youngs also noted that Lamb had an expectation of privacy on his property and garage.
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.
During the trial, DeValkenaere’s defense team argued that his actions were part of his job. Prosecutors argued that police officers shouldn’t have been in Lamb’s backyard in the first place and because of that, use of force and self-defense arguments didn’t apply.
Youngs said Friday that prosecutors met their burden of proof that DeValkenaere was not acting in self-defense or in the defense of his partner, saying the two officers escalated a situation that had already de-escalated.
DeValkenaere left court Friday surrounded by supporters and members of the Kansas City police union. He will be sentenced a date not yet set by the court.
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.”
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said he has spoke to some police officers since the verdict, and while some are upset, he does not expect it to impact the safety of the city.
“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.”
The Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police has not yet issued a statement.