Police Detective Kills Black Man
(MO) – Lt. Eric DeValkenaere, with the Kansas City Police Department, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter last month. DeValkenaere is a 26-year veteran police officer. At the time of the shooting, 2019, DeValkenaere was with the Violent Crime Squad.
The incident began due to the report of a red truck chasing another vehicle at high speeds. That report was already over. No officer was working the call. Lieutenant Eric DeValkenaere and Sergeant Troy Schwalm saw a red truck, at a private residence, being backed into a garage by the driver. The two police officers ran onto the property, “knocking over a makeshift fence,” and ordered the driver to stop. It doesn’t appear that the driver was even given time to comply. Within nine (9) seconds, DeValkenaere shot and killed Cameron Lamb, a 26-year old Black man.
Police Officer Defiant in Court
During the third day of the trial the following testimony was given in court. (See second video below).
Prosecutor: “…and still, no information about a crime, no, no weapon of any kind that were in your mind that you knew about, no information like that at the time. You are now entering private property without a warrant, without probable cause, with your gun drawn. True?”
DeValkenaere: As all officers in my situation would have done.
If what DeValkenaere says is true, then he’s saying that police officers have no regard for the Fourth Amendment which prohibits warrantless searches and deals with expectation of privacy. But then DeValkenaere goes on to misrepresent the situation, In other words, he lied.
Defense Attorney: Did you have time to get a warrant?
DeValkenaere: No, I did not.
This is absolutely false. There was no immediate threat. No one’s life was in danger. They were not being attacked. There absolutely was time to get a warrant. They knew were the vehicle was, they knew where the driver was. They could have placed a squad car to watch while they got the warrant. The problem is, they had to have known they didn’t have enough to get a warrant. This is a lieutenant and a sergeant, not a couple of rookies. They knew what they needed and they knew they didn’t have it.
Criminal Investigation Hits Road Blocks
The Kansas City Police Department was angry at the Prosecutor’s Office over the criminal investigation into the shooting. There appears to have been some attempts to hamper the criminal investigation being conducted by the prosecutor. “Baker, the prosecutor, has accused the department of not providing a probable cause statement in the case, forcing her to take the case to a grand jury.” The police department wouldn’t even suspend DeValkenaere until he was convicted. They did everything they could to protect this police officer. Once he was convicted, they had no choice but to move forward. They suspended him without pay while they are processing his termination.
Knowing that, it should come as no surprise that Eric DeValkenaere is the first Kansas City police officer, ever, to have been convicted of killing a Black man. THE FIRST ONE EVER! The last time a Kansas City police officer was even charged with killing a Black man was in 1941 and the jury decided he was innocent.
It’s extremely doubtful that this is the first time a Kansas City police officer has unjustifiably killed a Black man. The only logical conclusion would be that the system is corrupt. And as it turns out, there were accusations of DeValkenaere planting the weapon and bullets on the victim. No proof was given one way or the other, but with their track record, you have to wonder.
Delivering his verdict from the bench in a courtroom packed with supporters and family of both DeValkenaere and Lamb, Youngs said that the two plainclothes policemen had no arrest warrant, no search warrant and no probable cause to obtain either.
Neither were there exigent circumstances nor a hot pursuit that might have justified their entrance onto the property, Youngs said, noting that the car chase had ended some time earlier.
Defense Attorneys Make a Poor Call
Thankfully, for the sake of justice, the defense attorneys made a poor call. At least they did in my opinion. Eric DeValkenaere waved his right to a jury trial. That means he was allowing the judge to decide. I suspect that in the current climate, the defense attorneys felt they stood a better chance with a judge than they did with a jury.
The case was based on a lot of technical issues. Things like the definition of curtilage. What qualifies as curtilage. What constitutes immanent threat and exigent circumstances. You also have the need to understand what probable cause is and how far a police officer can legally go and at what point does he have to back off to get a warrant. Also, understand what is expectation of privacy. Those are all tripping points for a jury. Defense attorneys know exactly how to muddy the waters. I believe they could have caused enough confusion within a jury to get a favorable ruling. That was not something they were going to be able to do with a judge.
No doubt there will be an appeal. It’s unknown on what grounds that appeal will be based. Sentencing is not until March 3, 2022. In the meantime, Eric DeValkenaeres is free to enjoy his life, unlike Cameron Lamb. Sergeant Troy Schwalm was not charged in the shooting.
The first video below is the judge finding DeValkenaeres guilty. The second video below is the testimony that was cited in this post.