KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The case against Eric DeValkenaere, the former Kansas City, Missouri, police officer convicted of two felonies in the shooting death of Cameron Lamb four years ago, may wind up before the Missouri Supreme Court.
DeValkenaere — who is currently imprisoned out of state — also could be pardoned, a move that many in the Kansas City community would spark renewed protests similar to those seen in June 2020 after George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police.
There have been a lot of twists and turns in the case since DeValkenaere shot and killed Lamb on Dec. 3, 2019, in the backyard of his residence in the 4100 block of College Avenue.
Here is a timeline and some context of the major developments starting with the day Lamb died:
* Some times are approximate based on police reports, the trial record as well as past releases from police and prosecutors.
~10 a.m. — Dec. 3, 2019
Cameron Lamb and his live-in girlfriend broke up and she moved out after an argument, which continued outside the house and eventually led to Lamb chasing her in their vehicles at high speeds through streets in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Undercover officers witnessed parts of the chase and some traffic infractions, but no one with KCPD ever attempted to pull over Lamb before he stopped following his girlfriend and returned home.
KCPD detectives first witnessed the case around 12:22 p.m. near East 43rd Street and Cleveland Avenue.
12:27 p.m. — Dec. 3, 2019
As Cameron Lamb is backing the truck into the garage and KCPD Det. Troy Schwalm approaches the vehicle, Lamb places a phone call to a member of his ex-girlfriend's family.
Approximately 10 to 15 seconds later, DeValkenaere, who had entered the backyard from the opposite side by knocking over a grill and car hood that have been arranged as a makeshift fence, shoots Lamb.
The phone was still ringing during the shooting, but a voicemail after the call's recipient doesn't answer captures the aftermath of the shooting.
~12:28 p.m. — Dec. 3, 2019
Two KCPD detectives, Schwalm and DeValkenaere, entered the backyard of a residence in the 4100 block of College Avenue. Nine seconds after DeValkenaere entered the property by knocking over a makeshift fence, he shot and killed Cameron Lamb.
It was later determined that the officers entered the property without a warrant; without seeking permission to enter the property, including from Lamb’s roommate who was on the front porch; and without probable cause of any crime beyond traffic infractions.
~12:33 p.m. — Dec. 3. 2019
Shortly after shooting and killing Cameron Lamb, former KCPD Det. Eric DeValkenaere identified himself then responded to a question about if any suspects remained at-large over the police radio: “Nobody here. When we arrived here, the lady in pink was telling us that the Mustang had been over here and there was a situation involving guns.”
“The lady in pink” refers to Lamb’s roommate. She and DeValkenaere testified at his trial that no such conversation ever took place. In fact, they never spoke to each other before or after the shooting about events earlier that morning.
DeValkenaere later claimed he overheard her say something to other officers after he’d killed Lamb, but it’s unclear why he chose to relay second-hand information over the air, implying that he had a conversation before the shooting, or why he maintained any role in the investigation after he had killed Lamb.
12:42 p.m. — Dec. 3, 2019
After waiting nearly 8 minutes to enter the garage while waiting for a ballistics shield, a KCPD police officer confirms that Cameron Lamb is dead.
Police initially said EMS, which had arrived to stage at the scene, could disregard the call and didn't need to examine Lamb but reversed course and allowed an ambulance crew to respond to the garage.
EMS later confirmed Lamb dead at 12:50 p.m.
12:48 p.m. — Dec. 3, 2019
After Lamb's roommate provides information about the argument that morning, KCPD officers showed up at Cameron Lamb’s ex-girlfriend’s house with guns drawn looking for the owner of the vehicle Lamb was seen chasing.
Radio traffic at 12:49 p.m. indicated police were holding parties at gunpoint after arriving at the house.
During the ensuing conversation with Lamb’s ex, police learn for the first time about the argument and breakup earlier in the morning from one of the people directly involved.
12:59 p.m. — Dec. 3, 2019
Former KCPD Chief of Police Rick Smith refers to Cameron Lamb as a “bad guy” over the police radio, which some have suggested showed KCPD’s bias from the beginning of the investigation into Eric DeValkenaere shooting and killing Lamb. Others dismissed the remark as police “shop talk.”
~1:30 p.m. — Dec. 3, 2019
A KCPD spokesperson said there were “no additional suspects at large,” even though there had never been a police-involved chase and Lamb had returned home before ever being contacted by police. Other than traffic infractions, no other crime was alleged at the time by police, who confirmed for the first time that a person had died after being shot by an officer.
~3:30 p.m. — Dec. 3, 2019
KCPD claimed that there was a “disturbance” call regarding two vehicles in the area of East 35th Street and College Avenue driving at high speeds through neighborhood streets.
Police later conceded that they didn’t receive a call about the alleged chase but rather undercover officers witnessed a red truck chasing another car at high speeds.
Because members of the unit were in plainclothes and in unmarked vehicles for a surveillance operation, no pursuit was initiated but the undercover officers asked the KCPD helicopter to try and locate the vehicle.
Undercover officers in unmarked cars and the police helicopter are forbidden by KCPD policy to engage in a high-speed pursuit, so officers never attempted to pull over the red truck, which Lamb was driving.
Police said at the time it was unclear if Lamb was armed.
~4:21 p.m. — Dec. 3, 2019
After sending its first official narrative of the incident, a KCPD spokesperson providing an update at the scene claimed for the first time that a gun was found on the ground under Lamb’s hand, where he and the red truck came to rest at the back of a subterranean garage.
At the trial, the first KCPD officer who entered the scene with a shield to clear it before EMS was allowed to attend to Lamb said he never saw a gun on the ground in the garage but other officers said they remembered seeing a gun.
5:30 p.m. — Dec. 3, 2019
Crime scene technicians are allowed into the garage at Cameron Lamb’s house for the first time to process the scene for evidence, according to testimony at trial. More than five hours have passed since Eric DeValkenaere shot and killed Lamb.
No bullets were found in Lamb’s pockets during the processing of the scene, but two bullets showed up in Lamb’s pocket during an autopsy the next day at the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Detectives Schwalm and DeValkenaere testified that the truck was running when the shooting occurred, but the keys were later found in Lamb’s pocket and not in the ignition.
Crime scene technician Ben Simmons testified at trial that his official report was amended eight days after it was filed at the request of “a reviewer” to designate DeValkenaere as a victim and Lamb as a suspect.
5:40 p.m. — Dec. 3, 2019
The Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office was notified that it needed to come collect a body. Coroners would arrive on scene at 6:07 p.m.
The investigation — Dec. 3, 2019
After years of resisting calls to have independent investigations of use-of-force incidents, KCPD begrudgingly allowed the Missouri State Highway Patrol to take over the investigation six months after Cameron Lamb was shot and killed.
Prior to that, including the Lamb case, KCPD’s own investigators worked the cases involving police shooting and other use of force.
Det. James Price was the lead investigator in the Lamb homicide, according to KCPD. He worked in now-retired KCPD Sgt. Richard Sharp’s Homicide Unit, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
Sharp had been DeValkenaere’s boss earlier in his career when the latter was a young detective investigating assaults and continued to “work closely” with DeValkenaere in the years since, according to a letter Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker sent to former Chief of Police Rick Smith.
When Baker asked Smith to transfer the case to a detective without such close ties to DeValkenaere, he refused.
KCPD — which would only confirm that Sharp and DeValkenaere overlapped in the Investigations Bureau, citing a narrow interpretation of state Sunshine Law exemptions — refused to say whether DeValkenaere ever worked directly under Sharp or if Sharp was the supervising sergeant on the Lamb investigation.
Dec. 4, 2019
KCPD identified 26-year-old Cameron Lamb as the man shot to death by police.
Dec. 5, 2019
DeValkenaere sits down for a formal interview with KCPD Homicide Unit detectives about the Cameron Lamb shooting.
Consistent with testimony he'd later offer before the grand jury and at trial, DeValkenaere said he was focused on Lamb's hands and that his right hand never left the steering wheel.
He said he saw Lamb reach for a gun with his left hand and raise it toward Schwalm.
DeValkenaere never mentions seeing a cell phone, though call records and a voicemail clearly prove that Lamb made a phone call around the same time DeValkenaere claimed to see gun in his hand.
DeValkenaere told police investigators he and Schwalm were investigating Lamb "driving crazy and whatever offense, you know, may have exchanged between the truck and the Mustang."
He floats the idea that there may have been a rolling gun battle, though admitted at trial that police had no evidence of any such incident that morning before entering Lamb's property.
Dec. 10, 2019
KCPD released an incomplete transcript of radio chatter between undercover officers and the police helicopter, which did not include timestamps, giving the impression that officers were in active pursuit of a red truck driven by Cameron Lamb. At trial, officers admitted and prosecutors proved there was no active police pursuit.
KCPD went on to say that Lamb “presented a clear danger to other drivers” despite acknowledging that he had returned home and was backing the truck into a driveway at the time he was shot.
Dec. 11, 2019
One of several crime lab Full Case Reports is filed, which had been amended to list Lamb as the suspect and DeValkenaere as a victim.
KCPD Sgt. Richard Sharp, who had groomed DeValkenaere as a young Assault Unit detective, is listed as the investigating officer on one of the reports, while others indicate it was assigned to his Homicide Unit with James Price and Timothy Taylor listed as the investigating officers under Sharp's direction.
Early February 2020
Two months after Cameron Lamb was shot and killed, KCPD forwarded a case to the prosecutor's office for consideration of a domestic violence charge against Lamb despite the fact that no prosecution was possible since he was dead.
Detectives had not been able to interview Lamb, because he’d been killed by Eric DeValkenaere and based the case on his ex-girlfriend’s testimony despite contradictory eyewitness testimony.
The ex-girlfriend never filed a report about the incident. KCPD only learned after Lamb was dead that he and his ex-girlfriend allegedly slapped each other during an argument that morning.
Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker questioned why the case was forwarded to her office:
“Aside from the fact that Cameron Lamb was dead, which was the main reason no prosecution was possible, it would never be a felony, because the evidence didn’t fit a felony level offense.”
She said the incident may have resulted in a city charge in municipal court, but would not have been charged as a state offense in county circuit court since it didn’t involve any serious injuries to either party.
Additionally, because a witness reported they had slapped each other, the charge may have been against the ex-girlfriend had Lamb been alive to provide his side.
Lamb also allegedly damaged his ex-girlfriend’s vehicle prior to the chase, but no charges were forwarded for the alleged property damage, which also could not have been prosecuted.
KSHB 41 News repeatedly asked KCPD if it regularly forwards cases for consideration of charges when the suspect is dead, but police declined to answer the question. They also declined to answer why or what purpose, if any, there would be in forwarding a case where no prosecution was possible.
However, KCPD did not forward any cases for consideration to prosecutors in Jackson or Clay counties related to a man suspected of three homicides after he died in a suspected murder-suicide, which highlights the discretion police have and their common practice.
March 23, 2020
Four days after Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney requested a probable cause statement in Lamb's shooting, KCPD Major Greg Volker, the commander of the department's Violent Crimes Division, sends an email to Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office Chief Deputy Dion Sankar ending its cooperation with the prosecutor's office:
I just wanted you to know that KCPD is not going to submit a PC nor 327 on this investigation. This was discussed with Chief Smith and Deputy Chief Francisco.
A PC is a probable cause statement, while a 327 is a witness list of all parties involved in the alleged crime and subsequent investigation.
April 1, 2020
Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker penned a letter for then-KCPD Chief of Police Rick Smith, which included details about some issues she had with the investigation of Cameron Lamb’s homicide and other police misconduct.
Among those issues:
- KCPD refused to provide probable cause statements in use of force cases;
- Having Eric DeValkenaere’s former boss, then-Sgt. Richard Sharp, oversee the investigation;
- Inadequate questioning of DeValkenaere during the investigation;
- KCPD forwarded a case against Lamb for consideration to her office two months after he was shot to death, a highly unusual move for police.
Baker’s office also took exception to the handling of another police-misconduct case in the letter.
June 18, 2020
Three months after KCPD stopped cooperating with the prosecutor's office, grand-jury proceedings were initiated and DeValkenaere testified before a Jackson County grand jury more than six months after shooting Lamb.
A police-union attorney and Molly Hastings, who would be his defense lawyer at trial, were available to DeValkenaere outside the courtroom for consultation.
He admitted during testimony that KCPD officers had no probable cause Lamb had been involved in a rolling gun battle as previously speculated or any violent crime of any kind.
DeValkenaere claimed that he clearly saw Lamb's right hand, which never left the steering wheel of the truck, but that he had a black pistol in his left hand and pointed it at Schwalm before opening fire.
"I was scared s***less," DeValkenaere said. "I started shooting at him believing that he was shooting Troy and I ran, shooting backwards, around the corner of the house, freaking the f*** out."
DeValkenaere admitted he and Schwalm had no consent or warrant to enter Lamb's property before killing him.
"Every time I try to sleep, I see a 10-second portion of this," DeValkenaere said.
June 19, 2020
Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker details two felony charges against Kansas City, Missouri, Police Det. Eric DeValkenaere after a grand jury indictment was handed down.
He was charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.
A warrant for DeValkenaere’s arrest had been issued a day before after the grand-jury indictment was unsealed and he was allowed to self-surrender without a mugshot being taken before being freed on a $30,000 bond.
June 28, 2021
The mothers of Cameron Lamb’s minor children filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the KCPD Board of Police Commissioners and former police officer Eric DeValkenaere. Lamb’s mother, Laurie Bey, who had been outspoken about his death, also joined the lawsuit.
Nov. 8, 2021
Eric DeValkenaere’s bench trial begins in Jackson County Circuit Court. After opening statements, fellow KCPD officer Troy Schwalm testified in court that he never saw Cameron Lamb with a gun before he was killed but also said he believes DeValkenaere saved his life that day.
Nov. 9, 2021
Cameron Lamb’s roommate, Roberta Merritt, testified on the second day of Eric DeValkenaere’s trial. She said he owned a gun but had left it on the stairs in the garage and did not have it in his truck on the day he was killed.
Nov. 10, 2021
Eric DeValkenaere took the stand in his own defense on the third day of his bench trial. He denied planting evidence or asking anyone to plant evidence at the scene.
DeValkenaere also admitted on the stand that he had no warrant, no probable cause that a violent crime had occurred, no knowledge of the argument Lamb had earlier in the day with his girlfriend, did not seek permission to enter the property, and knew there was no active police pursuit.
After killing Lamb, DeValkenaere said over the police radio that Merritt told him the earlier incident with Lamb’s ex-girlfriend involved guns, but he later admitted that he never spoke with Merritt and that the statement he made over the air “was inaccurate.”
Nov. 12, 2021
After a day off for Veterans Day, Eric DeValkenaere’s four-day bench trial concluded with two rebuttal witnesses testifying for the defense before closing arguments.
Nov. 19, 2021
Jackson County Circuit Court Presiding Judge J. Dale Youngs found former KCPD officer Eric DeValkenaere guilty of second-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in Cameron Lamb’s death.
He had been charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter, but Youngs, who oversaw the four-day bench trial, ruled that DeValkenaere was negligent but not reckless in causing Lamb’s death in convicting him of the lesser included charge.
Feb. 22, 2022
Judge J. Dale Youngs, who found ex-KCPD police officer Eric DeValkenaere guilty of second-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action, ruled that he would be allowed to remain free on bond with the appeal pending.
March 4, 2022
Jackson County Circuit Court Presiding Judge J. Dale Youngs sentenced convicted former KCPD officer Eric DeValkenaere to six years in prison.
March 7, 2022
Eric DeValkenaere’s attorneys filed a motion of intent to appeal the guilty verdict.
Oct. 27, 2022
Former KCPD officer Eric DeValkenaere’s attorneys formally file an appeal of his conviction for second-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed action.
May 4, 2023
After requesting and receiving extensions to file a response to the appellate brief in November 2022 as well as January, February, March and April 2023, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office requested a sixth extension in the case.
It was granted, but Missouri Court of Appeals Western District Chief Judge Gary Witt noted that “no further extensions will be granted.”
June 2, 2023
Missouri Court of Appeals Western District Chief Judge Gary Witt reluctantly grants the sixth motion for an extension, noting that “absolutely no further extensions will be granted.”
June 13, 2023
Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker sends a letter to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson asking him not to preemptively pardon former KCPD police officer Eric DeValkenaere.
June 14, 2023
Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker’s office files an amicus brief, asking permission to defend the conviction of Eric DeValkenaere because her office didn’t know if the Missouri Attorney General’s Office “intends to defend the conviction” the county prosecutor obtained.
June 16, 2023
The appeals court allows the Jackson County prosecutor’s office to file a brief in support of the conviction it obtained against Eric DeValkenaere.
June 26, 2023
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office, which typically handles the prosecution’s duties in criminal appeals, filed a response to Eric DeValkenaere’s appeal that sided with the convicted former KCPD officer — a highly unusual, if not unprecedented, move.
9 a.m. — Sept. 5, 2023
A three-judge panel with the Missouri Court of Appeals for Western Missouri hears arguments in Eric DeValkenaere’s appeal.
DeValkenaere’s appellate attorney, Jonathan Laurans, and Missouri Assistant Attorney General Shaun Mackelprang argue for overturning the verdict, while Jackson County was allowed to defend its conviction before the court.
9 a.m — Oct. 17, 2023
A three-judge panel for the Missouri Court of Appeals for Western Missouri hands down a unanimous opinion that affirms DeValkenaere’s conviction for second-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.
The court also revoked DeValkenaere’s bond and issued a warrant for his arrest.
11:57 a.m. — Oct. 17, 2023
Convicted former Kansas City, Missouri, Police Det. Eric DeValkenaere surrendered to sheriff’s deputies at the Platte County Detention Center — where he was booked, had a mugshot taken for the first time and was processed to begin serving a six-year prison sentence.
It marked the first time DeValkenaere, now 44, was placed behind bars, where he was being held in protective custody.
Oct. 18, 2023
Attorneys for convicted ex-KCPD Det. Eric DeValkenaere filed a motion to have his appeal bond reinstated, declaring an intention to seek a rehearing of the case and possible transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court.
Oct. 24, 2023
After Eric DeValkenaere’s wife revealed during a radio interview that family attorneys had requested clemency, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s office confirmed that it had received “an informal request” to pardon the convicted ex-KCPD police officer.
Oct. 25, 2023
In accordance with the appeals court order, Eric DeValkenaere is transferred to prison at the Missouri Department of Corrections' Western Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in St. Joseph.
Oct. 26, 2023
The Missouri Court of Appeals for Western Missouri denied Eric DeValkenaere’s bond-reinstatement motion.
Oct. 31, 2023
Attorneys for convicted former KCPD police officer Eric DeValkenaere filed a motion for rehearing with the Missouri Court of Appeals for Western Missouri and also applied to have the case transferred to the Missouri Supreme Court.
Nov. 1, 2023
For the second time in six months, the Missouri Attorney General's Office supported a motion by DeValkenaere's attorneys by filing a motion in support of his rehearing and application for transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court.
Nov. 8, 2023
The Missouri Department of Corrections confirmed that DeValkenaere had been transferred to a prison facility out of state.
Nov. 15, 2023
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson criticized Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker for politicizing the DeValkenaere case in a radio interview.
He said he had yet to make a decision about clemency in the case.
Nov. 17, 2023
A prominent Kansas City criminal defense attorney, John Picerno, disputed the notion that Jean Peters Baker politicized the DeValkenaere case.
He noted that KCPD refused to cooperate with the prosecutor's office from the beginning of the case, long before the George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis touched off a summer of unrest and protests against police use of force.
Picerno pointed out that Baker allowed DeValkenaere to testify before the grand jury that ultimately indicted him, which she was not required to do and which pushes back at the idea that she approached the case with bias.
Nov. 21, 2023
The Missouri Court of Appeals overruled the rehearing motion from DeValkenaere's attorneys and denied the application for transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court.
The court also overruled and denied a similar dual motion from the Missouri Attorney General's Office, leaving DeValkenaere with a direct appeal to the state's high court as his only remaining option aside from clemency.
Dec. 1, 2023
DeValkenaere's attorneys and the Missouri Attorney General's Office filed applications with the Missouri Supreme Court to have the case transferred after the appeals denied kicking the case up to the state's high court.
Dec. 7, 2023
During an interview with KCUR's State Kraske on his "Up To Date" radio program, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson indicated that he'll wait probably wait for the Missouri Supreme Court to rule on whether to accept the application for transfer of DeValkenaere's case before making his decision related to possible clemency.
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