A Kansas City, Missouri, police detective is now waiting for a judge to deliver a verdict after his involuntary manslaughter trial in the fatal shooting a Black man in 2019 ended on Friday.
The trial for Detective Eric J. DeValkenaere marked the first time in the city’s history that an officer has been charged in a fatal on-duty shooting, The Kansas City Star reported.
DeValkenaere, 43, is charged with involuntary manslaughter after he shot 26-year-old Cameron Lamb as he sat in a pickup truck in his own backyard on Dec. 3, 2019. The bench trial began on Monday, Nov. 8, and ended on Friday.
Judge J. Dale Youngs heard the case without a jury, and said he could deliver a ruling as early as next week.
“I will do my best not to delay,” the Jackson County judge said on Friday.
DeValkenaere claims he only fired his weapon after Lamb aimed a gun at another detective on the scene who was standing at the driver’s door of the vehicle.
After the shooting, police found a weapon outside of the pickup on the garage floor underneath Lamb’s left arm hanging out of the driver’s side window. But prosecutors have accused police of planting evidence and staging the scene.
At the time of the shooting, DeValkenaere and detective and Troy Schwalm arrived at the home, where Lamb was backing his red pickup truck into a basement garage. A helicopter previously spotted and followed the truck after it was involved in a neighborhood chase and crash with another vehicle.
Lamb’s attorneys said he initially complied when Schwalm and DeValkenaere, both in plainclothes, yelled at him to raise his hands. DeValkenaere said he fired his weapon through the windshield four times after Lamb pointed a handgun at Schwalm.
Two bullets struck Lamb in the chest and leg. Prosecutors said during the trial Lamb was grasping the steering wheel with his left hand and a cellphone with his right before he was shot.
Prosecutors presented police dash camera video in court this week, showing that police prevented an EMS crew from entering the garage to check on Lamb for 14 minutes after the shooting. When medics were finally allowed inside the garage, Lamb, a father of four, was pronounced dead.
Before prosecutors rested their case on Tuesday, they alleged DeValkenaere’s conduct violated the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unlawful searches and seizures.
Prosecutors also said the detectives did not have a warrant or permission to be on the property, and that their actions were not warranted since the high-speed chase had already ended.
DeValkenaere fired the shots about nine seconds after arriving on the scene.
Several officers testified that they saw a handgun on the garage floor where Lamb’s left hand hung outside of the vehicle’s window after the shooting. Prosceutors say Lamb didn’t have full use of his left hand as a result of an injury sustained years prior.
DeValkenaere took the stand on Wednesday and insisted he fired his weapon to defend his partner.
“My focus moves from that weapon to the center of his chest. I bring my weapon from this position and drive it towards him. And as I acquire the front side I discharge a round to his center mass,” DeValkenaere said as he fought tears. He denied that he conspired to plant a weapon alongside other officers.
Schwalm testified that he did not see a gun in Lamb’s hand.
Lamb’s family filed a $10 million wrongful death suit in June against the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners and DeValkenaere.
“I speak for the Lamb family,” said Travis Cains, a friend of George Floyd, outside of the courthouse this week. “We’re tired. We need some justice. We are somebody. This was a human being. It was somebody that bled red just like everyone else out here.”
More stories from our partners:
BLM Activist Threatens to Riot If New York Mayor-Elect Eric Adams Reinstates Plainclothes Street Units. NYPD Wants to Label Him a Domestic Terrorist In Response.
‘It’s Just the Ultimate Final Cutoff’: Kanye West Opens Up About His Bipolar Diagnosis and Being Labeled ‘Crazy’
Jon Gruden Desperate To Save Face, Suing NFL Over Leaked Emails | Feels He Was “Maliciously” Singled Out