KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The family of a Kansas City, Missouri, man who was fatally shot by police in 2019 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the KCPD Board of Police Commissioners and the officer charged in Lamb's death, Det. Eric DeValkenaere.
Chazmin English, Brittany Lynch and Terra Aaron – the mothers of Cameron Lamb’s three children – filed suit Monday in the Western District Court of Missouri, alleging the BOPC “failed to properly train, supervise, screen, discipline, transfer, counsel or otherwise properly equip and control officers, including those who are known, or who should have been known, to engage in the use of excessive force and/or deadly force.”
Lamb was fatally shot while sitting in his truck in the backyard of the home he lived in.
His family said at the time they did not know why he was shot. But police said that while driving a pickup truck, he was chasing a mustang well over the speed limit. Officers located Lamb’s vehicle at the residence where he lived, and as they approached the home, police said, Lamb – still in the vehicle – pointed a gun at an officer, who fired at Lamb.
The lawsuit also alleges the BOPC was aware of “the continuing, widespread, persistent pattern of unconstitutional misconduct of the Kansas City Police Department” and did not address it.
In incidents where a KCPD officer shoots a citizen, KCPD Chief Rick Smith has refused to allow outside agencies to investigate, according to the suit, along with not providing probable cause statements in those incidents to the prosecutor’s office.
“These policies and practices have served the purpose of conveying to officers that the use of excessive and deadly force is accepted and condoned by the Kansas City Police Department,” the suit states.
41 Action News previously reported that Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said she was told by KCPD that probable cause statements “may be withheld in officer-involved incidents investigated by your department.”
However, in April, the department announced updated policies that include requiring outside agencies to investigate shootings by officers.
KCPD training also, according to the suit, emphasized an “us-against-them” mentality.
“This mentality was most prominently displayed in a 2019 KCPD training PowerPoint on fatal police shootings, which strikes a defensive and argumentative tone while training officers that media coverage of police shootings are unfair and unreasonable, and that officer’s problems are made worse by leaders who ‘made concessions’ to ‘appease the inaccurate perceptions of the public,’” the suit states. “The training went on to tell officers not to feel guilty about killing citizens because they are ‘the winner in a competition in which the winning prize is their life.’”
The lawsuit also details several other instances in which KCPD officers used excessive force, including the 2013 death of Ryan Stokes, a 2019 incident in which two officers were charged with excessive force after being accused of injuring Breona Hill and the March 2020 death of Donnie Sanders, among others.
The suit also alleges that DeValkenaere violated Lamb’s Fourth Amendment rights by entering “Lamb’s property without a warrant or legal right to do so.”
Lamb’s three minor children are the beneficiaries in the wrongful death suit.
DeValkenaere was charged in June with involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action following an indictment from a grand jury. His jury trial is set to start July 12.
When contacted for comment regarding the lawsuit, a KCPD spokesperson told 41 Action News via email that the department generally doesn’t “comment on pending litigation to ensure fairness for all sides involved.”
For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.