KANSAS CITY, Mo, — A national legal defense fund for police is stepping up in favor of a Kansas City officer charged in the shooting death of a Black man.
Virginia-based Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund is granting money to the legal defense for KCPD Detective Eric DeValkenaere.
Jason Johnson, the nonprofit’s president, said what DeValkenaere did on Dec. 3 would normally bring a police officer praise. Instead, DeValkenaere, 41, faces a charge of first-degree involuntary manslaughter.
On Dec. 3, DeValkenaere shot and killed 26-year-old Cameron Lamb outside Lamb’s east Kansas City home. DeValkenaere and another officer had followed Lamb there during a pursuit.
DeValkenaere said he shot Lamb when Lamb reached for a gun, but another officer on the scene said he wasn’t sure if Lamb had one.
“He naturally feared that police officer was going to be murdered, so he used reasonable force to stop that to save that officer’s life,” Johnson said.
Johnson, a 20-year veteran as a police officer, said he believes charges delivered by Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker are politically-motivated, the product of a climate brought on by the highly publicized death of George Floyd in Minnesota, who was killed while in police custody, and other related events.
“It’s became sport for certain elected officials to bring criminal charges for their political benefit, not necessarily in pursuit of justice, but in pursuit of a political objective,” Johnson told FOX4.
Lamb’s loved ones disagree.
Sheryl Ferguson, an east Kansas City activist involved with the group It’s Time 4 Justice, is a friend to the Lamb family. Ferguson said she believes Lamb’s Second and Fourth Amendment rights were violated. She said support for DeValkenaere’s case is destructive.
“I actually think he’s out of touch with reality,” Ferguson said, referring to Johnson. “There is nothing that validates DeValkenaere’s story. There’s no truth to it, but yet, because he’s a white officer, all of a sudden, the legal defense fund has money for him.”
Johnson didn’t disclose the exact amount of money the defense fund has to support DeValkenaere.
Ferguson said she believes the charges against the detective are insufficient — since the most he can receive as a sentence is time in prison rather than the death penalty.
“It feels like further victimization of the Black community. Once again, we have a circumstance where a Black man gets executed and a white officer gets money,” Ferguson said.