Verdict coming for Kansas City officer in Black man’s death


A judge is set to issue a verdict in the case of a white Kansas City, Missouri, police officer charged in the fatal shooting of a Black man in 2019

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A judge was set to rule Friday after the trial of a white Kansas City, Missouri, police officer charged with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a Black man.

Officer Eric DeValkenaere also is charged with armed criminal action in the death of Cameron Lamb, 26. Lamb was shot while backing into his garage Dec. 3, 2019, after police said he chased his girlfriend’s convertible in a stolen pickup truck.

DeValkenaere testified during the trial before Jackson County Judge Dale Youngs that he fired after Lamb pointed a gun at another detective, Troy Schwalm, and that he believed his actions saved the life of his partner. On the stand, DeValkenaere said: “I’m thinking, ‘I can’t let this happen, I can’t let him shoot Troy.’”

Prosecutors, however, argued that police lacked a warrant to be on the property and staged the shooting scene to support their claims that Lamb was armed. Before he was shot, prosecutors said, Lamb had his left hand on the truck’s steering wheel and his cellphone in his right hand.

Another officer who was the first to arrive on the scene after the shooting testified during the trial that he didn’t see a gun on the ground below Lamb’s left arm, which was hanging out of the window of the truck. Later, though, a gun was there in police photographs.

Two bullets were found in Lamb’s pockets at the morgue, but crime scene technicians didn’t find them at the scene. And prosecutors also raised questions about whether Lamb, who was right-handed, could have used his left hand to pull a gun due to an earlier injury. The defense argued that he could.

The case marks the first time a white officer from the city has been criminally accused of killing a Black man. A bench trial was held last week before Youngs without a jury at DeValkenaere’s request.

The killing of Lamb, a father of three, was often invoked during racial injustice protests in Kansas City last year. And it was among several cases cited by a group of civil rights organizations in a petition urging U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the Kansas City Police Department.

In the past year, prosecutors have brought criminal charges against five white Kansas City police officers for allegedly using excessive force against Black people. DeValkenaere was the only officer charged in an on-duty killing.

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