KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A white former detective in Missouri who shot and killed a Black man in 2019 has lost an appeal of his conviction despite unusual support from the state’s Republican attorney general, with judges on Tuesday ordering the ex-officer placed under arrest.
Eric J. DeValkenaere was found guilty in 2021 of second-degree manslaughter and armed criminal action in the death of 26-year-old Cameron Lamb. Lamb was parking a pickup truck in his Kansas City backyard when the officer shot him after reports Lamb was in a car chase with his girlfriend. The judge who found DeValkenaere guilty in a bench trial said police were the initial aggressors and had a duty to retreat, but DeValkenaere illegally used deadly force instead.
Prosecutors and Lamb’s family have alleged a handgun was planted after the shooting, but that issue was not addressed by Jackson County Circuit Court Presiding Judge J. Dale Youngs when he convicted the detective.
On Tuesday, a three-judge panel ruled unanimously that there had been enough evidence to convict DeValkenaere. He had been sentenced to three years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and six years for armed criminal action, with the sentences to run consecutively.
The former detective has been free on bond during the appeal, but the judges revoked his bond Tuesday and ordered a warrant for his arrest.
DeValkenaere’s lawyer declined to comment.
In an unusual legal move, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey in June asked the appeals court to reverse DeValkenaere’s conviction or order a new trial for him. In Missouri, the attorney general’s office handles criminal appeals and typically defends convictions rather than appealing them.
A spokesperson on Tuesday said the attorney general’s office is reviewing the appeals court decision.
Police said DeValkenaere and his partner, Troy Schwalm, went to Lamb’s home after reports he’d been chasing his girlfriend’s convertible in a stolen pickup truck. DeValkenaere said he fired after Lamb pointed a gun at another detective. The judge said the officers had no probable cause to believe that any crime had been committed, had no warrant for Lamb’s arrest and had no search warrant or consent to be on the property.
Rumors had swirled this summer that Republican Gov. Mike Parson was considering pardoning or granting clemency to DeValkenaere. That prompted Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to send the governor a letter urging him not to do so. Civil rights advocates warned that releasing the former detective could cause unrest in the city and damage an already tense relationship between police and Kansas City’s Black community.
On Tuesday, a Parson spokesperson said the governor is “assessing the situation.”
“Governor Parson will give the same thorough review to Mr. DeValkenaere’s case that he gives to all others that come across his desk,” Johnathan Shiflett said in an email. “No decision regarding a pardon has been made at this time.”