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Prosecutor releases details in case against Eric DeValkenaere

KCPD detective charged in Cameron Lamb’s death
Eric De Valkenaere charges Jean Peters Baker.png
Cameron Lamb
Posted at 6:13 PM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 19:13:23-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Eric DeValkenaere’s attorney posted a $3,000 bond Friday for two felony charges related to the December 2019 shooting death of Cameron Lamb.

DeValkenaere, 41, a detective with the investigations unit of the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department, was charged Thursday with involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.

He is due in court June 23 for a hearing in the case.

New documents released Friday detail why a grand jury handed down DeValkenaere’s indictment Thursday, finding that “we have probable cause to believe that Eric DeValkenaere recklessly caused the death of Cameron Lamb," including the fact that the other officer at the scene disputed that Lamb had a gun in his left hand before he was shot.

The deadly incident started shortly after noon on Dec. 3, 2019, when officers spotted a red truck Lamb was driving chasing a purple Mustang at high speed near East 35th Street and College Avenue.

Police pursued the vehicle, but lost sight of Lamb’s truck after he pulled into a driveway and started to back into the backyard garage of the house where he was staying.

A KCPD helicopter had been tracking the vehicle and led DeValkenaere and fellow KCPD Det. Troy Schwalm to the residence, according to the indictment.

Both officers were wearing plainclothes, not standard police uniforms, and did not have a warrant to go on the property.

According to the grand jury indictment, Schwalm parked in the driveway and exited the vehicle with his gun drawn. He did not speak with a resident of the house who was sitting on the porch.

DeValkenaere arrived moments later and also exited his vehicle with his gun drawn. He did ask the woman on the porch who was in the backyard, but neither DeValkenaere nor Schwalm asked her for permission to enter the backyard.

At the heart of the case is the Fourth Amendment, which protects U.S. citizens from illegal search and seizure by government agents. Without a warrant and without permission from a resident or property owner, the KCPD detectives broke the law by continuing to search the property, the prosecutor contends.

Schwalm went around the south side of the house, where he encountered another man working on vehicles in the rear of the property, while DeValkenaere went around the north side.

“Detective Schwalm did not ask (the second witness) about the driver of the pickup or seek assistance from (the second witness),” according to the grand jury indictment.

Schwalm continued into the driveway, where Lamb was backing a red truck into the garage as DeValkenaere approached from the other side, “knocking over a barbeque grill and hood of a car to gain access to the yard,” court records say.

Schwalm made eye contact with Lamb and did not observe a gun in his left hand, which was on the steering wheel. He could not see Lamb’s right hand and tried to speak with him, but it’s unclear if Lamb heard the officer’s instructions.

When interviewed, DeValkenaere said it was Lamb’s right hand on the steering wheel and that he observed Lamb slide his left down toward his waist, draw a gun and point it at Schwalm.

DeValkenaere fired four shots through the windshield of the truck, striking Lamb twice as he continued to back into the garage. The truck continued to roll back until stopping against the back wall as Lamb slumped over into the passenger seat, according to Schwalm.

Crime scene investigators said Lamb’s body was found with his left arm hanging out of the open driver’s side window. A gun was found on the ground under Lamb’s hand.

According to interviews and medical records, Lamb was right-handed and suffered an injury in 2015 that limited use of his left hand. Phone records also show that Lamb made a phone call around the time he was fatally shot by Valkenaere and a voicemail captured audio of the moments immediately after the shooting as officers yelled at Lamb to exit the vehicle and show his hands.

But Lamb was already dead.

The grand jury was originally convened in September, according to court records.

As conditions of DeValkenaere’s bond, he is prohibited from contact with witnesses or victims, including fellow KCPD officers, and isn’t allowed to drink alcohol.

DeValkenaere also may not possess firearms or ammunition “outside of their employment,” but he is currently suspended from the police force, according to a statement Thursday night from KCPD.