KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Members of the community, including a former police officer, are responding to audio that’s raising questions about the deadly shooting of Cameron Lamb.
A source has confirmed to KSHB 41 that the audio pertains to the moments after Cameron Lamb was shot and killed by a Kansas City, Missouri, police detective, who was recently convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
The source also confirmed Kansas City Police Department Chief Rick Smith is the one heard saying, “Everyone’s good? House is clear? Bad guy’s dead?”
It’s the last question that led to swift backlash from the community after the audio surfaced Tuesday.
Darron Edwards, a local pastor, said labeling Lamb a “bad guy” shortly after arriving to the scene is painful and further erodes trust between police and the community, particularly for people of color.
“The first thing that came to my mind was, what happened to decency and dignity?” Edwards said.
Edwards also took issue with the response to the question, “Everyone’s good?”
“This family has lost a loved one and more attention is being given to, ‘Everyone is fine.’ Everyone was not fine at the crime scene and a person lost their life,” Edwards said.
But, there are members of the community who see this situation differently.
Dr. John Hamilton, Professor of Criminal Justice at Park University and a former police officer, thinks the situation is being misinterpreted.
“I think part of the issue is looking at the context for which things occur,” Hamilton said. “'Bad guy' is one of those general terms we would often use to indicate someone we believed either violated the law, or was a threat to the community or us. It really carries no other connotation than that.”
Edwards said while he can understand how the choice of words could be viewed as “shop talk,” he thinks the words display a lack of compassion. He said it indicates the situation was judged before the evidence was collected.
“I really just believe (Smith) was playing the judge and jury, “ Edwards said. "He said what he needed to say, he was protecting his officers instead of serving and protecting the community.”
Edwards and Hamilton do agree on one thing.
“I think there has to be a dialogue between the law enforcement agency and the community,” Hamilton said.
Edward wants the chief to address the audio. He said police and the community need to communicate in order to break down barriers.
“When you’re trying to build bridges and KCPD has walls it’s hard to bring those courageous discussions,” Edwards said.
Smith declined to be interviewed for this story.