A detective in the Kansas City police department was convicted of manslaughter for killing a Black man who was killed in his own backyard, reports the Kansas City Star.
The announcement of the conviction was made by Judge J. Dale Young on Friday.
Eric DeValkenaere was charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action on Dec. 3, 2019, shooting of Cameron Lamb. He was convicted of second-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action
The officer was the first white Kansas City police officer in 80 years to face a criminal trial in the shooting death of a Black man.
“Justice was gotten today,” said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker
Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, which funded DeValkenaere’s legal defense, said the organization was shocked and disappointed.
“Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker’s politically-motivated prosecution sets a dangerous precedent,” he said in a statement. “Police officers are not above the law but they are entitled to be held to the same standard as all citizens, not one based on political expediency.”
Lamb was killed after officers investigated a crash that reported a red pickup chasing a purple Ford Mustang. Prosecutors argued that he was shot while backing a pickup into his garage; they alleged that it took DeValkenaere only nine seconds to walk from the front of the house to the back of the house before he began shooting.
DeValkenaere testified that right before he opened fire, he saw Lamb reach with his left hand for a handgun from his waistband and that he pointed it towards his partner Troy Schwalm.
“My focus moves from that weapon to the center of his chest,” DeValkenaere said. “I bring my weapon and drive it towards him. And as I acquire the front sight, I discharge a round to his center mass.” DeValkenaere said he had a duty to protect Schwalm. He also denied planting evidence, altering evidence, or changing the report of the shooting.
The prosecution argued that DeValkenaere’s conduct was “reckless and violated the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
“The state of Missouri finds it absolutely unreasonable that he did this with a loaded gun,” said assistant prosecutor Dion Sankar. “We find it unreasonable because there was no reason to enter the private residence with a gun because there was no pressing reason pressing him to move. That was his choice.”
When the verdict was read, Lamb’s family and friends were filled with emotion.
One woman, upon hearing the verdict yelled, “God is good.”