The legal team representing a former cop convicted of killing a 26-year-old Black man in Kansas City, Missouri, asks a judge to grant their client a bond so he can remain free while the case is appealed. His lawyer claims that they are concerned about his safety in detention.
According to the Kansas City Star, defense attorney Molly Hastings requested Jackson County Circuit Court Judge J. Dale Youngs to consider offering an appeal bond to their client, Eric DeValkenaere, on Wednesday, Jan. 26.
Despite a four-day bench trial in November finding him guilty of second-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the killing of Cameron Lamb on Dec. 3, the request was made.
DeValkenaere made headlines three years ago when he fatally shot Lamb in his pickup truck while attempting to park his automobile in his garage at his home.
In November of 2021, the former detective made history once more when he became the first white member of law enforcement in Kansas City since 1942 to be accused and convicted of killing a Black man.
Hastings believes that incarcerating DeValkenaere would put his life in jeopardy.
Hastings said, “We know that because of Eric’s particular situation, we have some very serious safety concerns about where he would be held if he were to be put into prison on the day of the sentencing.”
“I believe it’s a reasonable request just to have a feel so that Eric and his family can prepare ahead of time so that we have an idea of what your opinions are,” she said.
DeValkenaere’s release on bail would be unprecedented, according to Youngs.
“I’ve been doing this for over 13 years,” the judge said. “I have never ordered a post-verdict appeal bond or postponed the execution of a sentence.”
“Aside from Mr. DeValkenaere’s position as a police officer, I’m not sure what other unique circumstances would compel me to treat him differently than I would treat someone else in his situation given the charges,” Youngs stated.
Youngs added, “The only thing I’ve ever done is remand someone to custody.”
The judge did not totally shut off the defense. He advised Sankar to find a middle ground between being released on bond and being remanded in detention. He mentioned county house arrest as a possibility but said he needed to file a motion by Feb. 25, a week before sentencing, in order to be considered properly.
After the conviction, the former officer was granted a $30,000 bond and is no longer employed by the KCPD as of Monday, Jan. 24. As a result, he was able to remain free while awaiting sentencing. He risks four years in prison if convicted of manslaughter, and at least three years if convicted of armed criminal action. DeValkenaere’s sentences will be served simultaneously or consecutively, according to Youngs.
Dion Sankar, Jackson County Deputy Chief Prosecutor, argues that this officer should not be handled any differently from other individuals guilty of the same or similar crimes.
He said, “We see Mr. DeValkenaere like we would any other person in his situation.”
The former officer’s case was presented, and the facts favored Lamb’s family, leading to his conviction for murder.
After a police helicopter spotted Lamb following his fiancée as she sped away from him in her car, Detective DeValkenaere followed him down to his home in 2019.
DeValkenaere claims he shot the victim because he pointed his gun towards a colleague of the cop. “I can’t let this happen, I can’t allow him to shoot Troy,” he testified at the trial. The other detective is Troy Schwalm.
This theory was refuted throughout the trial. Lamb did not have a gun on him when he was shot, according to the prosecution. However, a weapon was discovered at the crime scene on the garage floor beneath Lamb’s dangling arm outside the driver’s side window.
A different officer testified that he did not observe a pistol on the ground, supporting the prosecution’s claim. Because he was the first on the scene, this officer’s testimony carried a lot of weight. According to the prosecution, the scene could have been staged using a placed gun. They claimed Lamb had his phone in his hand.
The laws in Missouri for the offenses for which DeValkenaere was convicted are extremely clear. Anyone convicted of armed criminal action will face a mandatory term of three to 15 years in prison, with no chance of parole for the first three years. A conviction for second-degree involuntary manslaughter, which is a Class E felony, carries a maximum term of four years; however, there is no obligatory minimum sentence.
DeValkenaere’s sentencing is set for March 4th.
The request has elicited no response from Lamb’s relatives.