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Missouri Supreme Court denies convicted ex-KCPD officer Eric DeValkenaere’s transfer application

Eric DeValkenaere State Mug.jpg
Posted at 1:04 PM, Mar 05, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Former Kansas City, Missouri, police officer Eric DeValkenaere’s conviction for shooting and killing Cameron Lamb in the driveway of his residence on Dec. 3, 2019, will stand.

The Supreme Court of Missouri denied DeValkenaere’s motion to transfer the case to the state’s high court Tuesday after the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District affirmed his conviction in September 2023.

The court also denied a similar motion from the Missouri Attorney General's Office, which had taken the unusual step of supporting the convicted felon rather than seeking to uphold the conviction during the appeals process.

The Missouri Supreme Court’s decision not to hear DeValkenaere’s case keeps his convictions for second-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in place.

Laurie Bey, Lamb's mother, told KSHB 41 News that she was "overjoyed" and brought to tears by the decision.

"He was a father. He was a son. He was a brother,” Lamb’s mother Laurie Bey said Tuesday. “He was everything to everyone who knew him.”

Aqim Bey said Tuesday's announcement sent a message to the people of Kansas City.

"You’ve got a police officer that has been convicted and sentenced and he is serving time,” Aqim Bey said Tuesday. “Maybe that will give the community some kind of hope. I think it means a lot to us, but I think it means a lot to the citizens of Kansas City.”

DeValkenaere turned himself in to begin serving a six-year sentence shortly after the appeals court’s decision in mid-September. He has since been transferred out of state.

With the high court’s decision, DeValkenaere is nearly out of options to have his conviction overturned in court.

"It is not unexpected that the Missouri Supreme Court has rendered a decision to deny transfer of the DeValkenaere decision for the Supreme Court's review," Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker, whose office secured the conviction, said in a statement. "We’re grateful for the full judicial process that’s been given this case."

DeValkenaere's attorneys have 90 days to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United Statesor seek post-conviction relief in state court, which is most often done by citing ineffective assistance from counsel, but both are considered long shots by long-time court observers.

That means DeValkenaere’s fate probably is in the hands of Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, who has been asked to grant the former KCPD detective clemency.

DETAILED TIMELINE | Shooting of Lamb, conviction of DeValkenaere

A Jackson County judge ruled at trial that DeValkenaere and another KCPD officer, Troy Schwalm, violated the Constitution by illegally entering Lamb’s property in the 4100 block of College Avenue without a warrant, permission or probable cause that a crime was taking place, which would create exigent circumstances.

After breaking through a makeshift fence to reach the backyard, DeValkenaere claimed to see Lamb point a gun at fellow officer Schwalm, who had approached from the opposite side of the house down a wraparound driveway.

Schwalm was trying to get Lamb, who was backing a truck into a subterranean garage, to turn off his vehicle when DeValkenaere killed him.

After getting into an argument with his girlfriend earlier during the morning of the shooting, undercover officers near Lamb’s neighborhood spotted him driving his truck erratically as he chased her through city streets.

Police never initiated a chase because the only officers to witness the activity were wearing plainclothes and in unmarked vehicles, but KCPD’s helicopter eventually was used to track Lamb’s movements, which guided DeValkenaere and Schwalm to his residence.

The officers had no evidence of any crimes other than traffic charges, did not seek a warrant and did not ask Lamb’s roommate, who was on the front porch at the house when police arrived, for permission to enter the property before the deadly encounter.

KCPD refused to cooperate with the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which sought to review the case.

Instead, the case against DeValkenaere was brought before a grand jury, which handed down an indictment in June 2020.

Jackson County Circuit Court Presiding Judge J. Dale Youngs found DeValkenaere guilty after a four-day bench trial in November 2021.

He was sentenced in March 2022 and formally appealed the verdict in October 2022.

DeValkenaere was allowed to remain free on bond throughout the trial and appeals process, only reporting to prison after the appeals court affirmed the conviction.

Lamb, a father of three, was 26 years old when he was killed.

His family has sued DeValkenaere and the police department for wrongful death.

DeValkenaere's conviction has become a political flashpoint with Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey's office refusing to defend the conviction, an unprecedented decision, while Missouri Gov. Mike Parson lobs accusations of a political prosecution, though not everyone shares that view.

RELATED | Attorney: Don’t blame Peters Baker for politicizing 'highly unusual' DeValkenaere case, Gov. Parson

KSHB 41 reached out to Parson's office, Bailey's office and DeValkenaere's appellate attorney for comment but have yet to hear back.

Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the KSHB 41 News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015. Read the KSHB 41 News Mug Shot Policy.