KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department detective will defend his decision to shoot and kill a man during a trial which begins Monday at 9 a.m.
Cameron Lamb, a father of three, died when Detective Eric DeValkenaere shot him in a backyard near East 41st Street and College Avenue in December 2019.
DeValkenaere faces felony charges of first-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.
Court documents show a car similar to the one Lamb was driving was involved in a car chase. Detectives observed Lamb violate traffic laws and followed him in unmarked cars to the home on College Avenue where Lamb repaired vehicles in a basement garage accessible through the backyard.
Documents point out there was doubt about whether Lamb’s truck was in fact the same one from the chase.
DeValkenaere and another plain-clothes detective walked into the backyard with their guns drawn as Lamb backed the truck into the garage.
DeValkenaere claimed he saw Lamb point a gun at the other detective, so he shot four times, killing Lamb. Investigators did find a gun near Lamb on the ground next to an open window of the truck.
People at the house said that the gun was on a shelf or step in that area before Lamb backed into the garage. The other detective said he never saw Lamb point a gun at him. That detective will testify under oath during the trial.
KCPD did not have body cameras at the time of the shooting.
A judge, not a jury, will determine whether DeValkenaere was justified in shooting Lamb.
The Urban League of Greater Kansas City will host a rally for Lamb’s family with the father of Jacob Blake, who was shot by a police officer in Wisconsin.
“Today, we come seeking justice for Cameron Lamb who was murdered by a Kansas City police officer. For too long KCPD officers have subjected Black men and women to excessive and deadly force with impunity,” Gwen Grant, president, and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City said in a statement.
An attorney with no connection to the case said it’s important the judge only focus on the facts presented during the trial and not outside influences when considering the case.
“I think what you’re going to see in this case is you have a really good judge who is going to look at the case for what it is, the law involved, the facts involved,” explained Greg Watt of the Watt Law Firm. “I think most judges that I’ve dealt with don’t allow themselves to be concerned with the political aspects. They look at what is just for the merits of that case.”
The trial takes place in front of Judge J. Dale Young at the Jackson County courthouse in downtown Kansas City and could last all week.