KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The defense has rested in the case against KCPD Det. Eric DeValkenaere, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action after he shot and killed Cameron Lamb.
The shooting happened in December 2019 after officers entered the property where Lamb lived.
It was believed Lamb had been chasing his ex-girlfriend in his red truck, and KCPD's helicopter tracked him back to the property on College Avenue.
Lamb was backing into the garage when DeValkenaere and his partner,Det. Troy Schwalm, approached him, reportedly trying some deescalation tactics before DeValkenaere said he saw a gun and shot Lamb.
At issue in the trial was whether or not DeValkenaere acted reasonably, had a right to be on the property without a warrant and the possibility evidence was planted after the shooting.
DeValkenaere's defense team rested its case Friday morning after calling a final two witnesses to the stand.
The first, Dr. David Clymer, testified he believed Lamb had the full use of his left hand at the time of the shooting.
That would be an important factor as DeValkenaere reported seeing a gun in his left hand.
Lamb's left index finger was injured in a previous shooting but would have been healed and fully functional by December 2019, Clymer said.
Also on the stand Friday morning was police practices expert Stephen Bradford Ijames.
He testified that DeValkenaere and Schwalm's actions that day, as far as entering the property, were appropriate.
"In the totality of these circumstances, reasonable, prudent, experienced officers would believe that investigative attention was necessary," he said.
Ultimately, Ijames said he believed DeValkenaere's actions that day — including the use of deadly force on Lamb — were reasonable.
The prosecution's cross examination focused largely on whether or not DeValkenaere and Schwalm had a right to be on private property.
Then the parties began closing arguments.
The prosecution argued none of the defenses DeValkenaere claims are applicable to his case, because he acted in a reckless manner.
Assistant prosecutor Dion Sankar said DeValkenaere did not have enough information about the situation to use deadly force. Rather, he was acting on assumptions of violence and danger.
“Good, reasonable, careful police act on information, not assumptions," Sankar said.
The defense contended that the situation forced DeValkenaere to act and that "any officer" would have had the "same outcome."
“Eric did not want to shoot Cameron Lamb. It was the last thing he wanted to do. But he had no choice. Mr. Lamb pointed a gun at his partner, Troy Schwalm, a fully marked police officer. Eric had to shoot Mr. Lamb to save Troy’s life,” Dawn Parsons, one of DeValkenaere's attorneys, said.
Parsons argued that Lamb's actions to that point in the day created the situation in which he was killed.
“Mr. Lamb made all the decisions on December 3, 2019; Eric and Troy responded. He escalated the encounter… He chose to point a gun at a fully marked police officer," she said.
Tim Dollar, a trial attorney working with the state in the case, closed the day in court, arguing the detectives were "cowboys" who ran onto private property with guns drawn, without cause or legal basis.
That, Dollar said, strips DeValkenaere of his protection from the law.
“When you act carelessly and violate one’s constitutional rights, you then create the very situation that escalates to violence and danger, and you are then not given the protection of self defense or the defense of others for the very situation that you created in the first place. That’s the law,” Dollar said.
Judge Dale Youngs now takes the matter under advisement.
A verdict is not expected until the second half of next week, at the earliest.
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