KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The family of a Black man who was fatally shot by a white police detective in his own backyard in 2019 is suing Kansas City police and the officer.
According to the Kansas City Star, the complaint was filed on behalf of Cameron Lamb’s four young children in federal court on Monday. The complaint claims that officer Eric DeValkenaere violated Lamb’s civil rights when he entered his home without a warrant and fatally shot Lamb, 26, who was sitting in his pickup truck.
The Kansas City police board and DeValkenaere are being sued for more than $10 million in damages. In Lamb’s death, the detective, who has been suspended for more than a year, faces charges of first-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.
It was unclear whether DeValkenaere had retained an attorney who could comment on the complaint. In his criminal case, he is represented by a public defender, who would not represent him in the lawsuit.
The police department declined to comment on the complaint, citing a regulation prohibiting the agency from commenting on active litigation.
According to court papers in DeValkenaere’s criminal case, he and another officer went into Lamb’s property on Dec. 3, 2019, to investigate an earlier incident involving Lamb’s truck and another vehicle. After Lamb pointed a pistol at the second officer, DeValkenaere said he shot Lamb, who was still in his truck after pulling it into the garage.
Lamb’s left arm was dangling out of the truck, and a pistol was recovered on the ground beneath his hand, according to a police inquiry into the incident.
However, prosecutors and Lamb’s family counsel claim that Lamb was right-handed and didn’t have full use of his left hand due to an injury he received in 2015. According to the complaint, Police Chief Rick Smith assigned a former DeValkenaere supervisor to lead the investigation into the incident and failed to inform prosecutors of the supervisor’s relationship with DeValkenaere.
Lamb’s family has fought tooth and nail for answers regarding his death, visiting with then-President Donald Trump and other relatives of victims killed by police or while in prison last summer. S. Lee Merritt, a Texas civil rights attorney who represents numerous other families of Black individuals slain by police, is representing Lamb’s children.