The legal team for a Kansas City, Missouri, former cop convicted of killing a 26-year-old Black man wants a judge to offer their client a bond so he can remain free as the team appeals his case. His attorney says that they have “real safety concerns” about him in jail.
The Kansas City Star reported that on Wednesday, Jan. 26, defense attorney Molly Hastings asked Jackson County Circuit Court Judge J. Dale Youngs to consider offering an appeal bond to their client, Eric DeValkenaere.
The request was made despite the court finding him guilty in a four-day bench trial in November of second-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the Dec. 3, 2019 death of Cameron Lamb.
DeValkenaere made headlines approximately three years ago when the former cop fatally shot Lamb in his pickup truck as he attempted to park his car in the garage of his home.
The former detective made history again in November of 2021 by becoming the first white member of law enforcement in Kansas City to be charged and convicted of killing a Black man since 1942.
Hastings believes that DeValkenaere’s life would be in danger if he were to be incarcerated.
“We know that because of the unique position Eric is in, we have some very real safety concerns about where he would be housed if he were to be taken into custody on the day of the sentencing,” Hastings argued.
She remarked, “I think it is a reasonable request just to have a feel so that Eric and his family can prepare in advance so that we have an idea of what your thoughts are.”
Youngs said granting DeValkenaere bail would be unprecedented.
“In almost 13 years of doing this,” the judge said. “I have never stayed execution (of a sentence) and I have never ordered an appeal bond post-verdict.”
Youngs continued, “Other than Mr. DeValkenaere’s status as a police officer, I’m not exactly sure what other unique circumstances would compel me to treat him differently than I might treat somebody else in his situation given the charges.”
“The only thing I’ve ever done is remanded someone to custody,” Youngs said
The judge did not shut the defense down completely. He suggested that Sankar find a middle ground between release on bond and remand to custody. He offered county house arrest as a hypothetical but said he needed to file a motion by Feb. 25, a week before sentencing, for proper consideration.
The former officer, who as of Monday, Jan. 24 is no longer with the KCPD, was granted a $30,000 bond after the conviction. This allowed him to remain free as he awaits sentencing. He faces four years in prison on the manslaughter conviction and at least three years for the armed criminal action charge. Youngs will decide how DeValkenaere will serve his sentences, concurrently or consecutively.
Jackson County Deputy Chief Prosecutor Dion Sankar believes that this officer should receive no special considerations and should be treated like other criminals convicted of the same or similar crimes.
“We view Mr. DeValkenaere as we would any person in his situation,” he said.
The ex-officer’s case was presented and the facts pointed in favor of Lamb’s family, find him guilty of murder.
In 2019, Detective DeValkenaere tracked Lamb to his home after a police helicopter spotted him chasing his girlfriend as she sped away from him in her car.
According to DeValkenaere, he shot the deceased because he pointed his firearm at the officer’s colleague. He testified at trial: “I’m thinking, ‘I can’t let this happen, I can’t let him shoot Troy.’” Troy Schwalm is the other detective.
During the trial, this theory was rebutted. The prosecution maintained Lamb did not have a gun on him when he was shot. A weapon was, however, recovered at the crime scene on the floor of the garage underneath Lamb’s arm dangling outside the driver’s side window.
The prosecution’s assertion was supported by a different officer who testified he did not see a gun on the ground. This officer’s testimony held significant weight since he was the first to arrive on the scene. The prosecution made the case that the scene could have been staged with a planted gun. They contended that Lamb was holding his phone.
Missouri’s laws, for the crimes DeValkenaere was convicted for, are very clear-cut. For armed criminal action, the convicted will receive a mandatory three to 15-year sentence with no possibility of parole during the first three years. For a second-degree involuntary manslaughter conviction, which is a Class E felony, the guilty party can be hit with a maximum sentence of four years, however, there is no mandatory minimum sentence.
DeValkenaere is scheduled to be sentenced on March 4.
Lamb’s family has not released a statement regarding the request.
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