KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -– Police helicopter video, dash camera video and police witnesses were the focus of the first day of trial for a Kansas City police detective charged with involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action for the death of Cameron Lamb.
Officer Eric DeValkenaere shot Cameron Lamb on Dec. 3, 2019. A judge will decide if DeValkenaere is guilty or innocent of the charges he is facing.
On Monday, both the state and defense attorneys made their opening statements. Then prosecutors began presenting their case.
Prosecutors say DeValkenaere was reckless and entered the property where Lamb was living without consent or a warrant. They suggested that the gun found near Lamb was possibly planted or staged and that ammunition may have been planted in his pocket.
Prosecutors say an officer on scene did not hear the gun drop. The state argued another officer did not see the gun when they arrived on scene.
“If a police officer unlawfully enters onto private property without probable cause or a warrant and then without just cause shoots the resident of that private property in their own driveway causing death, that police officer is guilty of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action,” assistant prosecuting attorney Tim Dollar said.
DeValkenaere’s defense disputes that any evidence was planted and said the witness testimony used to make that claim has changed.
“Testimony regarding this gun has transformed itself to fit a very specific theory that the state will be arguing,” defense attorney Molly Hastings said. “Roberta’s testimony is not consistent, it is not credible, and it is not coincidence that it has been manipulated in the eleventh hour.”
Prosecutors questioned police officers who took the stand about what they described as inconsistent testimony from previous depositions compared to statements made in court Monday.
DeValkenaere’s defense attorneys say he began investigating Lamb because other officers saw Lamb chasing another vehicle at an estimated 60-90 mph that belonged to an on again off again girlfriend. Prosecutors argued that no 911 call had been made and Lamb had stopped following the vehicle and returned home before he was shot. They played video of Lamb backing into the driveway and garage in the courtroom.
The defense argues DeValkenaere shot because Lamb had a gun pointed at another officer and any officer would respond in the same way.
“Eric did not know Cameron Lamb. Eric did not want to have to shoot him and Eric is innocent,” Hastings said. “The evidence in this trial will show you that had it been any officer in Eric’s position it would have been the same outcome.”
“We’ll ask you to find in your verdict what this case you now know is really about. Careful and responsive police officers protect or citizens in their own homes. Careless and irresponsible police officers shoot our citizens in their own homes,” Dollar said.
Around noon Monday, The Urban League of Greater Kansas City and civil rights attorney Lee Merritt held a news conference with members of Cameron Lamb’s family, a friend of George Floyd and relatives of Jacob Blake and Oscar Grant. Members of the group said they stand in solidarity with Lamb’s family and called for justice.
COVID-19 guidelines limited the number of people who could attend the trial to allow for social distancing. Relatives and supporters of Lamb filled one side of the courtroom while DeValkenaere’s relatives and law enforcement filled the other side. KCTV5 News will continue to follow developments throughout the trial.