KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — The state has rested after back-and-forth tense exchanges as prosecutors and defense attorneys asked tough questions of witnesses during the trial of a Kansas City police officer charged with involuntary manslaughter for the 2019 shooting death of Cameron Lamb.
Eric DeValkenaere is also charged with armed criminal action.
Lamb’s mother briefly took the stand Tuesday to show photos of her son. Photos of Lamb with his children and family members were projected onto a screen. A photo of Lamb in the hospital for a 2015 injury to his left hand was also shown to the judge.
Prosecutors contend 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. DeValkenaere’s defense showed videos of Lamb using his left hand to do mechanic work on cars and lift items.
In 2019, tactical officers entered the garage where Lamb was shot 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
Tuesday’s testimony began with Cameron Lamb’s friend, Roberta Merritt, taking the stand.
She was emotional about the death of her friend at her home in 2019 after Lamb got into an argument with a woman who he dated off and on. She says on that day she saw Lamb’s gun on the stairs in her garage where he was shot and killed.
DeValkenaere’s defense also showed videos of Lamb driving with a gun on his lap saying he was known to keep a gun in his vehicle.
Police say Lamb chased the girlfriend’s vehicle at speeds of 60-90 miles per hour which led investigators to Merritt’s home where they found Lamb backing a truck into a garage. Prosecutors argued that the chase had ended and the officer did not have permission or a warrant to enter the property.
During the investigation, DeValkenaere says he saw Lamb point a gun at an officer and shot Lamb. Prosecutors are arguing the gun found near Lamb and ammunition may have been planted to justify the shooting.
Both prosecutors and defense attorneys have accused witnesses of changing their testimony during the investigation and trial. On Tuesday, some witnesses pushed back when pressed on the stand.
“In the last month your statement has transformed to reflect that you saw the gun at a very specific time and a very specific place,” defense attorney Molly Hastings said as she questioned Merritt. “During the course of this case lawyers, prosecutors, civil attorneys started reaching out to you within days of this shooting do you agree? Yes. You in fact are represented and a part of these lawsuits?”
“That doesn’t have anything to do with this,” Merritt responded. “That’s an irrelevant question.”
The state questioned a crime scene technician about why ammunition was not photographed at the scene when Lamb’s pockets were searched but later logged as being found in Lamb’s pockets at the morgue.
“In your cursory attempt to get the items out of the pocket you were successful in retrieving, as seen in this photograph, something as small and as thin as a penny. Correct. Pretty thorough wouldn’t you say?” assistant prosecuting attorney Tim Dollar asked.
“Again, it’s a cursory examination,” crime scene technician Ben Simmons responded. Several crime scene technicians testified that it is common to complete a more comprehensive body examination at the morgue in a controlled environment where clothing can be removed.
Prosecutors also questioned why two detectives were present during a body examination at the morgue and why reports were changed to list Cameron Lamb as the suspect rather than the victim. The state also questioned the length of time it took for a first responder to reach Lamb.
Crime scene technicians said it is normal procedure to have a homicide detective at a body examination and the second officer was job shadowing that day. A tactical officer testified they waited to request a first responder until they cleared the garage to make sure no innocent bystanders or officers were in danger.
DeValkenaere’s defense attorneys will continue presenting their case on Wednesday morning at 9:00AM.