A former Kansas City police officer accused of killing a Black man in a 2019 traffic incident was on Friday sentenced to six years in prison. According to CNN, Eric DeValkenaere received a three-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter and six years for armed criminal actions in the shooting death of Cameron Lamb. The sentences will run concurrently.
But the former cop, who is White and was found guilty in November last year, will remain free as he appeals his conviction. Responding to the verdict in a news conference, Lamb’s mother, Laurie Bey, said it was “a fair decision.”
“The mental pain that I deal with — that’s not going to go away,” Bey added.
“Preferably, it will shake up this police department. Shake up Kansas City,” Lamb’s stepfather, Aqil Bey, also said.
The appeal to have DeValkenaere remain free as he appeals his conviction was given the green light by Judge James Dale Youngs in February. Youngs justified his decision by stating that he did not feel it was imperative for Lamb to be locked up as he appealed his conviction.
“He’s known that since November and yet here he is,” Youngs said. “If he was a flight risk, I don’t know that I would have waited if I were Mr. DeValkenaere to fly to Panama. I think I probably would have done it … after I rendered my verdict in the case,” Youngs said, per KSHB.
Judge Youngs has reportedly been on the bench for 13 years. This is the first time he has given the green light for an appeal of that nature.
Per the indictment, the fatal incident occurred during a traffic incident in Kansas City on December 3, 2019. DeValkenaere and his partner responded to a scene following a report about a red pickup truck being involved in a road traffic incident, CNN reported.
The vehicle in question was spotted at the backyard driveway of a residence by a police helicopter. The officers, who were in plainclothes and had police department vests on, came to the residence despite not having any legal warrant. They also had their guns drawn at the time, the indictment stated.
DeValkenaere allegedly fired four shots into the vehicle while Lamb was driving into the home’s garage. That was after the officers tried telling the deceased Black man to stop. But the indictment stated that it could not be established if Lamb actually heard the officers’ orders. Lamb was struck twice.
DeValkenaere claimed he opened fire after he saw Lamb reaching for a gun and aiming it at his partner. The former cop’s partner, however, said Lamb’s fingers were spread apart, and his left hand was on the steering wheel.
In the aftermath of the incident, investigators found a gun in the car. And besides determining that Lamb was right-handed, medical records also revealed he couldn’t fully use his left hand as a result of a previous injury.