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Former Kansas City Police officer convicted of killing Black man asks for the governor's pardon

A week after his conviction was upheld, the family of Eric DeValkenaere informally filed a clemency request with Gov. Mike Parson. DeValkenaere was convicted of killing 26-year-old Cameron Lamb in 2019.

The family of Eric DeValkenaere, the only Kansas City Police officer ever convicted of killing a Black man, filed a clemency request Tuesday with Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

The request has long been rumored — and feared by the family of Cameron Lamb, the 26-year-old DeValkenaere fatally shot. Last week, Lamb’s mother, Laurie Bey, and stepfather, Aqil Bey, publicly asked that the governor refrain from a pardon.

DeValkenaere, 44, remained in the Platte County jail on Tuesday. He was found guilty of second-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action by a Jackson County judge in November 2021 for killing Lamb. In March 2022, DeValkenaere was sentenced to six years in prison.

Jonathan Shiflett, DeValkenaere’s attorney, said he had received in informal clemency request from the family, “along with hundreds of additional calls and requests from private citizens on his behalf.”

An official request has not yet been filed through the Missouri Parole Board, Shiflett said, nor had Parson made a decision about the pardon.

 A social justice activist outside the Missouri Court of Appeals in downtown Kansas City on September 5, 2023. Cameron Lamb was 26 when he was shot and killed by former Kansas City Police Detective Eric DeValkeneare.
Peggy Lowe
KCUR 89.3
A social justice activist outside the Missouri Court of Appeals in downtown Kansas City on September 5, 2023. Cameron Lamb was 26 when he was shot and killed by former Kansas City Police Detective Eric DeValkeneare.

Social justice activists immediately denounced the move, calling it “political.”

“We pray that Gov. Parson’s politics involve upholding the courts, integrity in policing and justice for a grieving family,” the group the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity — or MORE2 — in a statement. “Let the welfare of all the people of Missouri not just one, be the supreme law.”

DeValkenaere's wife, Sarah, broke the news of the clemency request on Pete Mundo's AM radio show Tuesday morning, noting that Parson was a former county sheriff.

"I know he’s a former law enforcement officer himself," Sarah DeValkenaere said in the radio interview. "I know he has firsthand knowledge of how hard these men and women work each day and how sometimes they’re put into life-and-death situations where they have to make quick decisions."

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who won the conviction, issued a terse, two-sentence reaction: "We strongly oppose. The rule of law has spoken clearly on this matter through a Jackson County Grand Jury, three separate Circuit Court judges, three separate appeals court judges and the presiding judge of the Western District Court of Appeals, who signed the arrest warrant last week."

Last Tuesday, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld that conviction and said there was no evidence to prove several of DeValkenaere’s claims, including that Lamb was armed.

DeValkanaere's bond was revoked early last Tuesday and he was booked into the Platte County Detention Center at about noon, according to the sheriff's website. He was being held in protective custody.

In a highly unusual move, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey also entered the case, asking the appellate court to give DeValkenaere a second legal chance.

Bailey said the Missouri Court of Appeals should reverse the conviction or order a new trial for DeValkenaere because the evidence doesn’t support the judge’s findings of guilt in the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Cameron Lamb. Police "are clothed with authority and privileges” that “raise important questions” about DeValkenaere’s case, Bailey said.

 In June, Baker warned Parson in a public letter that if he pardoned DeValkenaere, it could result in civil unrest and further erode the public's trust in the criminal justice system. Parson told KCUR in September that he’s not considering it and will wait for the legal process to be completed.

Lamb was killed in December 2019 after police followed him onto his property. They said he had been in a high-speed chase with another car, that he had traffic violations and he had recently harmed a woman.

The court found that Lamb was not in possession of a gun at the time of the shooting, that DeValkenaere’s entry onto Lamb’s property was illegal, and that he was not acting in self-defense or in defense of the other officer. In fact, Chapman wrote, the officers were “two uninvited men, in the backyard of a stranger, and were approaching with guns in their hands.”

On Monday, Nimrod Chapel, Jr., president of the Jefferson City NAACP, posted a piece on The Kansas City Defender asking people to call the governor's office and say “Missouri’s culture of death must end, Governor. Please deny a pardon for DeValkenaere.”

"In the face of governmental actions that threaten to erode our collective faith in the justice system, we must not be complacent," Chapel wrote. "We must remain vigilant in our struggle for justice and equality. This is not just a legal battle; it’s a moral imperative."

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.  

Copyright 2023 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Peggy Lowe