White Cop Convicted of Fatally Shooting Black Man After Prosecutors Say Evidence Was Planted

A white Kansas City police officer was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the fatal shooting of a Black man.

Jackson County Judge Dale Youngs issued officer Eric DeValkenaere the ruling on Friday. He was convicted of shooting Cameron Lamb in 2019 as he was backing into his garage, according to the Associated Press. Lamb had allegedly chased his girlfriend's convertible in a pickup truck. While delivering the ruling, Youngs said that the officer had escalated a situation that was already alleviated and that there was no probable cause to suspect a crime had occurred.

Prosecutors argued that DeValkenaere and his partner, Troy Schwalm, did not have a warrant to be on the property. The defendants also said that Lamb was armed, a claim the prosecution had proven to be false. Another officer said that a gun seen in police photographs was not near Lamb's truck when he arrived. Two bullets were also found in his pocket in the morgue that crime scene technicians did not initially find.

Jackson County Prosecutors were satisfied with the ruling. Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said after the verdict, "what we sought in this case was a just outcome and I believe that's where we stand today."

Laurie Bey, the mother of Lamb, still wonders why her son was killed in his backyard. She also said that those around him needed him.

"I miss my baby, and this just did not have to be," she told reporters. "It did not have to be. My son was at his home, and he was minding his own business when they took it upon themselves to go into the backyard. He was very needed not only to his family but to the community."

A sentencing hearing has not been scheduled. DeValkenaere faces up to four years in prison.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Eric DeValkenaere
Eric DeValkenaere, a Kansas City, Missouri, police detective, was convicted of fatally shooting Cameron Lamb after a chase, who was backing his pickup truck into his garage. Above, DeValkenaere testifies on November 10, 2021, at the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri, about what led up to the shooting of Lamb. Rich Sugg/The Kansas City Star via AP, File

Youngs called it a tragic case with troubling facts.

After the verdict, police escorted DeValkenaere and his family from the building. An officer said they wouldn't be commenting.

Lee Merritt, a Texas civil rights attorney, spoke on behalf of Lamb's family.

"Today will not bring him back. Justice is going to be short, but this is momentous. This is historic. And it means something," Merritt said.

"I'm thinking, 'I can't let this happen, I can't let him shoot Troy,'" DeValkenaere told the court.

Before he was shot, prosecutors said, Lamb had his left hand on the truck's steering wheel and his cellphone in his right hand.

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 have.

Youngs described police as the initial aggressors and said they had a duty to retreat, but DeValkenaere illegally used deadly force instead.

The verdict came after a bench trial, which was held before the judge without a jury at DeValkenaere's request. DeValkenaere will remain free on bond until he is sentenced.

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. The indictment in the case came days after Lamb's death garnered renewed attention stemming from his family's meeting with then-President Donald Trump in 2020.

Darron Edwards, one of several local pastors who have led efforts to improve policing in the minority community, said he appreciated the ruling.

"There's much hope that comes out of this for this family and for many who stand to come to the legal system to find the kind of justice that we all believe this county holds to," Edwards said.

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.

Black Lives Matter Kansas City
The killing of Cameron Lamb, a father of three, was often invoked during racial injustice protests in Kansas City last year. Above, demonstrators hold signs during a protest at the Country Club Plaza on May 31, 2020, in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images