© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Former Kansas City Police officer arrested after court upholds conviction for killing Black man

Eric DeValkenaere, center, is comforted by attorneys Dawn Parsons, left, and Holly Hastings, after Jackson County Circuit Court Judge J. Dale Youngs announced in November 2021 that he found the Kansas City Police detective guilty in the fatal shooting of Cameron Lamb.
file photo
Eric DeValkenaere, center, is comforted by attorneys Dawn Parsons, left, and Holly Hastings, after Jackson County Circuit Court Judge J. Dale Youngs announced in November 2021 that he found the Kansas City Police detective guilty in the fatal shooting of Cameron Lamb. An appeals court upheld that conviction on Tuesday.

Eric DeValkenaere surrendered to Platte County Sheriff's officials Tuesday after a Missouri appellate court's three-judge panel affirmed his 2021 second-degree manslaughter conviction for the killing of Cameron Lamb.

A white Kansas City Police officer surrendered to Platte County Sheriff's authorities Tuesday after a Missouri appellate court upheld his conviction in the killing of a Black man.

Eric DeValkenaere, 44, was found guilty of second-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action by a Jackson County judge in November 2021 for killing Cameron Lamb, a 26-year-old man. In March 2022, DeValkenaere was sentenced to six years in prison.

DeValkanaere's bond was revoked early Tuesday and he was booked into the Platte County Detention Center at about noon, according to the sheriff's website. He was being held in protective custody.

A mug shot of former Kansas City Police officer Eric DeValkenaere, who was booked at the Platte County Detention Center on Oct. 17, 2023, after losing his appeal.
Platte County Sheriff's Detention Center
Former Kansas City Police Detective Eric DeValkenaere

DeValkenaere, who is no longer with KCPD, appealed the conviction. At a hearing before a three-judge panel in September, DeValkenaere’s lawyers said Lamb was armed — prosecutors say he was not — and that DeValkenaere feared for the safety of another officer and that they believed Lamb was part of some criminal activity.

That’s despite Judge Dale Youngs’ findings from DeValkenaere’s trial. In a 42-page opinion released Tuesday, Judge Thomas Chapman said the court must view evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and DeValkenaere failed to present any evidence that Youngs’ decision was wrong.

“Under this standard, we accept as true all evidence tending to prove guilt along with all reasonable inferences that support the verdict, and we disregard evidence and inferences contrary to the verdict,” Chapman wrote.

 A group of people join in a circle and bow their heads to pray. Behind them is a statue of Andrew Jackson on horseback.
Savannah Hawley-Bates
KCUR 89.3
Members of the racial and economic justice organization More2 join with Cameron Lamb's family to pray against the possible pardon of Eric DeValkenaere, the white Kansas City Police Officer who shot and killed Cameron Lamb in 2019.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said the court's decision was a "validation of the rule of law and it is a victory for the truth."

"In courtrooms, politics and false narratives cannot prevail against evidence and facts," Baker said in a statement. "It is this part of the criminal justice system that makes our system better than any in the world."

In June, Baker warned Missouri Gov. Mike Parson in a public letter that if he pardoned DeValkenaere, it could result in civil unrest and further erode the public's trust in the criminal justice system. Parson told KCUR in September that he’s not considering it and will wait for the legal process to be completed.

On Tuesday, Parson’s office issued a statement saying the governor was aware of the court’s decision.

“Governor Parson will give the same thorough review to Mr. DeValkenaere’s case that he gives to all others that come across his desk. No decision regarding a pardon has been made at this time,” said Parson’s spokesperson Johnathan Shiflett.

Lamb was killed in December 2019 after police followed him onto his property. They said he had been in a high-speed chase with another car, that he had traffic violations and he had recently harmed a woman.

The court found that Lamb was not in possession of a gun at the time of the shooting, that DeValkenaere’s entry onto Lamb’s property was illegal, and that he was not acting in self-defense or in defense of the other officer. In fact, Chapman wrote, the officers were “two uninvited men, in the backyard of a stranger, and were approaching with guns in their hands.”

“In the light most favorable to the verdict, there was evidence from which a reasonable trier of fact could determine that Devalkenaere shot (Lamb) at a time when (Lamb) was unarmed and not threatening force,” Chapman wrote.

Prosecutors said DeValkenaere acted carelessly and recklessly in going onto Lamb’s property without probable cause or a warrant because there was no obvious crime in progress. Prosecutors have suggested that police planted a gun on the floor of the garage beneath Lamb’s left arm.

DeValkenaere is the first Kansas City police officer convicted of killing a Black man while on duty.

KCPD spokesman, Captain Corey Carlisle, said, “There are still legal proceedings underway as appeals are still available. We respect the legal process and the court’s decision.”

In a highly unusual move, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey sided with DeValkenaere, saying the conviction should be overturned.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
Madeline Fox is a news editor for KCUR.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.