KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some in the community are thankful that a Kansas City police detective has been indicted in the deadly shooting of Cameron Lamb.
Others, though, believe strongly that Det. Eric DeValkenaere did not commit a crime and his actions were justified. The president of the local police union certainly feels this way.
An encounter between Lamb, DeValkenaere and another detective on Dec. 3, 2019, would end with the 26-year-old father of three dead.
KCPD said officers noticed a pickup truck chasing a Ford Mustang through the streets near 35th and College. The department’s helicopter tracked the truck to a home near 41st and College.
DeValkenaere and Det. Troy Schwalm responded, and the plainclothes detectives entered Lamb’s back yard without permission and with weapons drawn, according to the jury’s affidavit.
In the yard, they saw Lamb behind the wheel of the pickup.
“He got into the backyard. The officers went to approach him to find out why he was speeding through the city, at which time he raised his hands in the air, slowly reached down and grabbed a handgun and began to point it at one of the detectives,” said Brad Lemon, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #99.
“The other detective unfortunately was, while he was yelling at him to tell him to drop the gun and put his hands back on the air, ended up being forced to shoot the suspect.”
The jury’s affidavit says offers conflicting details though about whether Lamb actually had a gun in hand.
Schwalm, who was on the driver’s side of the truck, said he could see Lamb’s left hand and he didn’t have a gun. DeValkenaere, however, said he could see both of Lamb’s hands and, while his right was on the wheel, he used the left to allegedly grab the gun.
Police said crime scene investigators did find a gun near the driver’s side of the truck when they processed the scene.
But Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker argues DeValkenaere didn’t ask for permission to be in Lamb’s back yard and violated his Fourth Amendment rights.
Lemon said it doesn’t work like that when there’s an alleged crime involved.
“Look this isn’t kindergarten. You don’t get a safe spot. Once you’re doing something wrong and try to get some place where it’s safe — that doesn’t happen that way,” he said.
“Officers were told there was a crime a foot. Officers responded to that crime,” Lemon continued. “They approach the individual committing the crime, and then had a gun pulled on them.”
The FOP president has repeatedly argued DeValkenaere’s actions were justified.
“This is a political overreach by a failing prosecutor,” he said.
After the charges were announced Thursday, FOP Lodge #99 released the following statement:
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.”
Baker declined comment for this story.