On Friday, a Kansas City police detective was found guilty of fatally shooting a black man in December 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri.
According to KCUR, Jackson County judge J. Dale Youngs convicted detective Eric J. DeValkenaere of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action for the death of 26-year-old Cameron Lamb. DeValkenaere initially waived his right to a jury trial.
“What we sought, in this case, was a just outcome, and that’s where we stand today,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker told reporters shortly after Presiding Judge J. Dale Youngs rendered the verdict.
“I am happy that the judge saw fit and he followed the law, but I miss my baby, and this just did not have to be,” Lamb’s mother, Laurie Bey, told reporters on Friday, per KMBC News.
Donna Drake, a spokeswoman for the Kansas City Police Department, stated that the department acknowledged the court’s decision in an email.
“Every officer-involved shooting is difficult not only for the members in the community but also the members of the police department,” she said.
The department suspended DeValkenaere pending his termination as a result of a conviction.
The 20-year veteran and member of the Violent Offender Squad is the first white law enforcement officer in 70 years to be convicted of fatally shooting a black man. In 1941, a police officer stood trial for killing a black man and was acquitted on all charges against him, KCUR reports.
Prosecutors in the case argued that DeValkenaere carelessly shot Lamb, a mechanic, and father of three, on Dec. 3, 2019, as Lamb was sitting in a pickup truck and backing into the basement garage in his backyard, according to the Kansas City Star.
During the trial, DeValkenaere mentioned that he and another detective, Troy Schwalm, arrived at Lamb’s residence when a third detective informed them of a nearby high-speed chase involving a red pickup truck and a purple mustang.
DeValkenaere and his attorneys said a police helicopter discovered the truck at Lamb’s residence at 41st Street and College Avenue. He and his partner, Schwalm, were in plainclothes when they approached the home and drew their weapons as Lamb parked the truck he was driving.
The detective confirmed during the trial that he shot Lamb after seeing him brandishing a gun. Prosecutors suggested Lamb’s gun was removed from his home and planted on him, along with multiple bullets, after he was shot, according to KCUR and the Kansas City Star.
DeValkenaere’s defense team argued that he responded to a potentially dangerous situation and had probable cause to enter Lamb’s property. Prosecutors argued that DeValkenaere entered the property without a warrant and shot Lamb within seconds of encountering him.
Youngs sided with the prosecution and stated that the police detectives had no probable cause, arrest warrant, or search warrant when they arrived at Lamb’s home.
“Based on the court’s review of the law and the facts, the court concludes that the backyard and particularly the carport were within the curtilage,” Youngs said, referring to the area immediately surrounding a dwelling. “And the occupants demonstrated a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
According to multiple reports, DeValkenaere remains free on bond pending his sentencing, which Youngs declined to schedule on Friday. “The defendant could face up to four years in prison at sentencing, according to ABC News.”
“What we sought, in this case, was a just outcome, and that’s where we stand today,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker told reporters after the verdict, per KCUR. “Today is justice, but there are no real victors in a case like this.”
On Friday, Lamb family attorney Lee Merritt called the verdict “momentous” and “historic” “outside the courthouse.
“These instances of justice in our system are far too rare, but there was something that happened here that was different,” Merritt said, according to KCUR.