It became evident things were not adding up when a gun suddenly appeared on the ground beneath a man named Cameron Lamb who had just been killed by Kansas City police while sitting in the driver’s seat of a pickup truck – when the gun was not there moments earlier.
Another red flag was how investigators found two bullets inside Lamb’s shirt pocket after his body had been transported to the medical examiner’s office when photos from the crime scene show they only found a penny, a lighter and a pair of tweezers in his pockets, according to the Kansas City Star.
Then there were the initial statements from the other Kansas City cops at the scene, including one who witnessed the shooting and told investigators that same day he never saw a gun in Lamb’s hand prior to him being shot to death and another who arrived moments after the shooting and said he never saw a gun on the ground – even though crime scene photographs later showed the gun to be at that very same spot.
But Kansas City Police Detective Eric Devalkenaere insisted Lamb was holding a gun in his left hand and pointing it at his partner which is why he opened fire on December 3, 2019. Lamb, 26, died with his left arm hanging out the window of the pickup truck. The gun was found on the ground beneath his left hand, according to crime scene photos.
But now that Devalkenaere is on trial this week on charges of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action for the shooting death of Lamb, the two cops mentioned above are backtracking from their initial statements.
Devalkenaere’s partner, Detective Troy Schwalm, was the other cop on the scene that day and initially said he had a clear view of Lamb who was backing his pickup truck into his garage.
When interviewed by investigators the day of the shooting, Schwalm said that Lamb’s left hand was on the steering wheel and that his right hand was holding a cell phone. He also told investigators that Lamb was making direct eye contact with him and even lifted his fingers from the steering wheel as if to acknowledge him.
However, on Monday when Schwalm took the witness stand during Devalkenaere’s trial, he testified he is not really sure if he saw Lamb’s left hand on the steering wheel but remembers his partner yelling, “He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!”.
He also teared up and wiped his eyes with a tissue and said he believes Devalkenaere saved his life that day. Devalkenaere also cried when he testified on Wednesday as you can see in the video below.
The second cop to testify was Kansas City police officer Kyle Easley who entered Lamb’s backyard after the shooting and told investigators the day of the shooting that he never saw a gun on the ground when he arrived on the scene.
However, on Monday, Easley testified he probably didn’t see the gun because he was carrying a bulletproof shield which likely obstructed his view. He also wrote in his report the day of the shooting that a gun had been found but he testified that he was basing it on what other cops had told him.
It was December 3, 2019 and Cameron Lamb had gotten into an argument with his girlfriend at the house, prompting her to leave the house in her purple Mustang with him following her in a red pickup truck.
A Kansas City cop in a car spotted the chase and radioed to an overhead police helicopter about two cars speeding through city streets. The cops in the helicopter then began monitoring the chase.
At some point, Lamb received a call from his roommate who convinced him to return home which he did without his girlfriend. The helicopter notified police on the ground that Lamb had pulled into a residential home and was attempting to park his truck into a garage in the backyard.
That was when plainclothes detectives Devalkenaere and Schwarm pulled up to the house in their unmarked cars and entered the property without a warrant, spotting a woman sitting on the front porch.
Roberta Merritt, who lived in the house with Lamb and others, testified that Schwarm entered the property first without saying a word to her, making his way to the backyard through the side of the house to where Lamb was backing his truck into the garage.
She said Devalkenaere then pulled up and pointed his gun at her, telling her “don’t move” before making his way into the backyard through the opposite side of the house that Shwarm had entered moments earlier.
Nine seconds after Devalkenaere had stepped onto the property, he had shot Lamb four times.
As Schwarm initially told investigators, Lamb had his phone in his right hand as he was backing his truck into the garage.
He was, in fact, making a phone call to a friend when he was shot and killed. The call went into his friend’s voicemail which captured a man’s voice ordering him to show his hands, step out of the truck and keep his hands in the air.
But there is no mention of a gun even though both cops testified that Devalkenaere yelled, “He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!”, the Kansas City Star reported.
Although Devalkenaere accused Lamb of holding a gun in his left hand while pointing a gun at his partner, it was later revealed that Lamb was not only right-handed but had little use of his left hand after injuring his left index finger in a 2015 shooting.
Then when Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker began looking into the contradictions, the Kansas City Police Department refused to provide her with a probable cause statement which is a routine procedure, according to the Kansas City Star.
Without a probable cause statement, Baker was forced to bring the case before a grand jury which is how he was indicted.
Devalkenaere is the first cop in the department’s history to be charged for an on-duty shooting death but he is one of five cops on the payroll currently under indictment.
The other cops are as follows:
- Kansas City Police Sergeant Matthew Neal who was indicted for felony assault, accused of placing his knee on the back of a 15-year-old boy’s neck, forcing his head into the pavement which has already led to a $725,000 settlement.
- Kansas City police officers Matthew Brummett and Charles Prichard were indicted last year after they were caught on video beating a transgender woman named Breona Hill which led to the arrest and conviction of a man named Roderick Reed for recording the incident as we wrote about at the time. The mayor eventually pardoned him and he has since filed a lawsuit.
- Kansas City police officer Nicholas McQuillen was charged last year with misdemeanor assault, accused of pepper spraying a 15-year-old girl in the face during a protest.
Watch the video below of Devalkenaere sobbing on the witness stand. The trial which began Monday is expected to end next week.
Correction: The original version of this article stated that a former Kansas City cop named Roger Golupski was being investigated by a federal grand jury for alleged crimes committed throughout this career. However, Golupski was a Kansas City cop from Kansas, not Missouri, which is a separate agency.