Several local activist groups pleaded with Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday not to pardon a former Kansas City police officer convicted of killing a Black man.
The groups, including It’s Time 4 Justice, the Kansas City Law Enforcement Accountability Project and the Party for Socialism and Liberation, gathered to speak on the issue in front of the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals in downtown Kansas City, where the former officer’s appeal will be heard Tuesday.
They were joined by Aquil Bey, the stepfather of Cameron Lamb.
Lamb was shot and killed by Kansas City police detective Eric DeValkenaere in 2019. DeValkenaere, who is white, became the first Kansas City police officer to be convicted in the shooting death of a Black man.
“If DeValkenaere is pardoned, if he is let off the hook by any other means, the people of Kansas City will not stand idly by. We are not going to let this injustice stand,” said Mason Strange, one of the organizers of Wednesday’s event.
“A pardon from Governor Parson will send a strong message to our community that none of us are safe, and that the law will not protect us from violent criminals with a badge and a gun.”
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, whose office prosecuted DeValkenaere, has also urged Parson not to pardon the former officer.
DeValkenaere, who is white, was sentenced to six years in prison after being found guilty of second-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the killing of 26-year-old Lamb. He has remained free on bond while appealing his conviction.
On Tuesday, a panel of appeals judges will hear arguments about overturning the conviction or granting DeValkenaere a new trial. Jackson County prosecutors will be allowed to defend the manslaughter conviction at Tuesday’s hearing.
Baker had sought permission to speak at the hearing after Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said the conviction should be overturned and that he would refuse to argue in support of the conviction.