A Kansas City cop was indicted on manslaughter charges Thursday for the shooting death of a 26-year-old man last year who police initially claimed had pulled a gun on them.
But even the cop who was alleged to have been Cameron Lamb’s intended target stated on an affidavit he never saw a gun in the victim’s hands.
And although police say a gun was recovered from the scene, Lamb’s family believes it was planted.
After all, a voice recording captured on Lamb’s phone from that night recorded the cops ordering him to get out of his truck with his hands in the air – making no mention of a gun.
Also, police say they found Lamb’s body still in his truck with his left arm hanging out the window and the gun on the ground below, suggesting Lamb was holding it in his left hand. However, not only was Lamb right-handed, he did not have full use of his left hand due to an accident he suffered in 2015.
The Kansas City Police Department also attempted to stonewall the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office in its investigation, refusing to provide a probable cause statement which delayed the investigation for several months. There is also a video from a police helicopter that might shed more details on the shooting but police have refused to release it.
Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said she brought the case before a grand jury because it was the only option she had to prosecute the cop after the chief refused to cooperate with the investigation.
According to the Kansas City Star:
On Thursday, Baker minced no words in describing the barriers police placed in front of prosecutors in this case. The police department’s refusal to turn over a probable cause statement delayed the pursuit of justice for months.
Baker said she should have been standing at the podium, announcing charges in February, but Police Chief Rick Smith rejected a routine request for a criminal complaint. Legal experts told The Star that Smith’s actions thwarted the prosecutor’s efforts and that withholding probable cause statements created the appearance of a cover-up.
Ultimately, Baker was forced to take the case before a grand jury.
“We were stymied,” she said Thursday.
The shooting took place on December 2 after police said they spotted a red pick up truck chasing a purple Mustang through the streets of Kansas City at a high rate of speed. A police helicopter than got involved, following the red truck, providing location information to the cops on the ground.
Lamb, who had no idea he was being followed, was backing his truck into the garage in his back yard when two Kansas City detectives entered his property without a warrant and out of uniform. It was later determined he had been arguing with his girlfriend, resulting in the earlier chase.
Kansas City Police Detective Eric DeValkenaere swore he spotted Lamb pulling a gun out of his waistband with his left hand before pointing it at the other cop, Detective Troy Schwalm.
But Schwalm swore he never saw a gun even though Lamb’s left hand was clearly visible to him.
A cell phone, however, was found near Lamb’s right hand, suggesting the cop may have confused it for a gun which is not as uncommon as it should be. Lamb had been making a call that went to voice mail which is how the cops’ voices were recorded.
This is how Kansas City police described the incident in a December press release:
The driver of the truck presented a clear danger to other drivers, particularly the occupants of the purple Mustang he was chasing. The helicopter officers saw the truck back into a residential lot behind a house in the 4100 block of College. They directed officers on the ground to that location. They needed to determine why the driver was chasing the Mustang.
One officer went to the south side of the house, and one to the north. The officer who came from the south made contact with an individual in the back yard who was working on vehicles. The other officer from the north watched Cameron Lamb back the truck down the driveway. He saw Lamb pull a gun and point it in the direction of the other officer. The officer on the north side fired at Lamb. Lamb never exited the truck. The other individual who had been working on cars was not involved in the incident and was not injured.
Lamb was found with his left hand hanging out the truck’s window with a gun on the ground underneath.
While investigators are expressing doubt that Lamb had a gun, the local police union president said it is “undisputed.”
It is undisputed that the suspect pointed a gun at another officer which clearly demonstrates that Officer DeValkenaere’s actions were justified. We will devote our resources to helping Officer DeValkenaere and his family. Like other cases across the country, this is another example of the Prosecuting Attorney abusing her authority for political gain.
Below is the statement from Prosecutor Baker following the indictment:
“According to an affidavit signed by the grand jury’s foreperson, on Dec. 3, 2019 Det. Troy Schwalm and Det DeValkenaere were in the area of 41st and College Avenue when they responded to radio dispatches regarding a traffic incident. A police helicopter had observed a red pickup being driven to 4154 College Avenue.
The detectives arrived at that address to investigate. Schwalm arrived first. He did not stop to ask any questions of a resident, who was on the porch. He exited his vehicle, drew his gun and entered the backyard. Neither detective requested permission to enter the property.
DeValkenaere, instead, had a weapon and asked resident about who was in the backyard. Schwalm went up the driveway on the south side of the house and encountered a man, not Lamb, in the backyard near several vehicles. The pickup driven by the victim, Cameron Lamb, was backing into the garage.
DeValkenaere, meanwhile, was on the other side of the house. He gained access to the backyard and garage by knocking over a barbeque grill and the hood of a car. Schwalm stated he was standing on the driver’s side of the pickup truck and could see Lamb. Schwalm stated he saw Lamb’s left hand and Lamb was looking at him. Schwalm stated there was no gun in Lamb’s left hand.
DeValkenaere, according to the affidavit, stated he could see both hands from where he was standing. He said Lamb’s right hand was on the steering wheel and he saw Lamb slide his left hand down his body, reach into his waistband and pull a gun and point it at Schwalm. DeValkenaere then fired his gun.
Four bullets hit the windshield of the pickup and two struck and fatally wounded Lamb. After he was shot, the pickup continued to roll backward and came to rest at the back of the garage. Schwalm stated he saw Lamb’s body slide toward the passenger’s seat after he was shot.
Tactical officers entered the garage and identified a gun on the ground beneath Lamb’s hand where the truck finally came to rest. Lamb’s body was inside the truck and his left arm was hanging out of the open driver’s side window. Medical records show that Lamb is right-handed and he did not have full use of his left hand as a result of an injury sustained in 2015.
Phone records, according to the affidavit, and a voicemail recording recovered by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office show Lamb made a phone call about the time he was shot. The call went to voicemail, and a recording of the immediate aftermath of the shooting was created. A voice is heard demanding that Lamb exit the vehicle, show his hands and keep his hand or hands up. Lamb’s cell phone was found by his right side when crime scene technicians processed the scene.”
Lamb was charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action which carry a maximum combined sentence of 13 years in prison.
Prosecutor Baker said she has received threats over her decision to prosecute the cop.
“I’ve heard it before, and this is not the first high profile case that I’ve handled. Those threats didn’t work then, and they won’t work now,” she continued, according to Fox 4.