KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On day three of his criminal trial, Kansas City Police Det. Eric DeValkenaere took the stand and tearfully explained his decision to shoot Cameron Lamb in December 2019.
The fallout from Lamb’s death led to the charges against DeValkenaere which include first-degree involuntary manslaughter.
On Wednesday testimony lasted just half the day. Thursday is Veterans Day and the courthouse will not be open for business. Ahead in the trial lies closing arguments and the judge decided to wait until Friday to move forward.
But during the half-day Devalkenaere testified. He has testified more than 250 times as law enforcement but never before as the accused.
On the stand, he reflected on his experience as a law enforcement officer. When asked how many people with weapons he had encountered he responded “hundreds.”
“How many times have you shot someone?” Molly Hastings, an attorney on DeValkenaere’s defense team, asked.
“Tw….twice,” DeValkenaere said, choking up.
Cameron Lamb died in a red pickup. He had been backing it into a garage near East 41st Street and College Avenue. DeValkenaere fired four shots at Lamb, hitting him twice in the chest and leg.
Prosecutors hammered the idea that while the defense wants to point out all Lamb’s unsavory past behavior, that was information DeValkenaere did not know in the moment.
“That’s not any information you had at any time while you were making decision about what to do and what not to do in this case, true?” Tim Dollar, an assistant prosecutor for Jackson County, asked.
“True,” DeValkenaere said.
“No information about a crime. No weapon of any kind that was in your mind that you knew about. No information like that at the time. You are now entering private property without a warrant, without probable cause, with your gun drawn. True?” Dollar asked.
“As all officers in my situation would have done,” DeValkenaere said.
Police had originally engaged with Lamb as a part of a pursuit of his vehicle, seen speeding through a residential area.
Once at the home, Devalkenaere estimates his total time approaching Lamb was about nine seconds. Prosecutors argue he escalated the situation instead of taking time to consider his options.
DeValkenaere disagreed saying he was defending a partner.
“And then my focus is obviously the weapon at that point. He takes his left hand with the gun and as he brings it along up and around the left hand side of of the steering wheel is when I…” DeValkenaere said with fighting tears.
“My focus moves from that weapon to the center of his chest. I bring my weapon from this position and drive it towards him. And as I acquire the front side I discharge a round to his center mass,” he said, emotionally.
When asked by Hastings if he believed that he saved his partner Troy Schwalm’s life that day, DeValkenaere responded: “Yes.”
Earlier in the day another officer testified that he stepped on the recovered weapon while attending to Lamb and the still-running truck. DeValkenaere denied that he had conspired with any other officers to plant a weapon.