(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — The police officer who shot and killed Cameron Lamb in Missouri last year was charged with manslaughter Thursday.
The news came just days after his family met with President Donald Trump to talk about racial inequality and police reform.
A Jackson County grand jury indicted former Kansas City police officer Eric DeValkenaere Thursday. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action for recklessly causing the death of Lamb, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office said in a release.
The first charge carries a punishment of three to 10 years in prison, while the second carries a minimum of three years.
Lamb, a black man, was fatally shot by DeValkenaere on Dec. 3, 2019, while he was sitting in his pickup truck and backing into his garage. DeValkenaere and another officer allegedly approached him after receiving a call over a traffic incident, and upon seeing he had a gun, shot him.
However, Detective Troy Schwalm, the other officer with DeValkenaere, stated there was no gun in Lamb’s left hand, according to the affidavit. A gun was recovered from the garage floor next to the truck.
“The defendant’s reckless behavior began by entering the victim’s property without consent, without a warrant, knocking over the fence to gain entry into that backyard, and firing his weapon, killing Cameron within seconds of entry,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Thursday, according to KMBC-TV. “The conscious disregard of a risk, or in this case, a series of risks or assumptions that were dangerous.”
According to Cameron Lamb’s family, Trump promised them that the Department of Justice would look into their case and bring additional federal charges. Lamb’s mother, Laurie Bey, and stepfather, Aquil Bey, addressed those promises in a press conference Thursday night.
“We thank the prosecutors’ office for everything which they did,” Aquil Bey said. “The culture that exists here … it kinda prevents you from getting justice.”
“We met with the president … and he promised us that the DOJ as well as the FBI is going to look into this case,” he continued. “So even though these charges are not what they could have been, there may be other charges coming. President Trump himself told us, verbally, that, ‘Look, we’re gonna look into this for you.'”
In a statement via their attorney, Lee Merritt, Lamb’s family members said they are pleased with the charges against DeValkenaere, but remain eager for his incarceration.
“We are pleased at this first step in getting justice for our son, but cannot rest until the man who killed him is behind bars. President Trump and the Attorney General personally promised us a federal investigation into criminal charges for this officer and police department when we met with them this week. We are anxiously waiting for federal action while the state criminal charges proceed against this officer,” they said.
DeValkenaere had been with the Kansas City Police Department since September 1999 and was assigned to the Investigations Bureau. He has since been suspended.
“The Kansas City Missouri Police Department continues to mourn the loss of life and all suffering surrounding this incident,” the police department said in a statement. “We respect the judicial process, including the grand jury’s finding in this matter, as well as all defendants’ presumption of innocence until proven guilty. As the case makes its way through court, we will continue to respect the process, and therefore cannot comment further at this time. As with any officer involved shooting incident, we will internally review the actions taken by officers.”
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas also released a statement following news of the charges against DeValkenaere.
“My heart continues to break for the family of Cameron Lamb,” he said in a release. “I thank the Grand Jury, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s office, and the FBI for their work. Even though it has been unnecessarily delayed in this case, I believe our justice system in Kansas City took an important step today, showing all are accountable before the law.”
Lucas has been working with the Board of Police Commissioners to eliminate police brutality following the death of George Floyd.
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