More than 1,200 citizens have already asked the Missouri governor to grant clemency to former Kansas City police detective Eric DeValkenaere, now serving six years in prison in a 2019 fatal shooting.
A Missouri Court of Appeals panel Oct. 17 ruled against an appeal of his convictions for involuntary manslaughter in the second degree and armed criminal action.
In just a week since its posting, over 1,200 citizens have been inspired by an online petition to email or call Gov. Mike Parson and ask him to grant DeValkenaere clemency.
“Police Officer Eric DeValkenaere has served the Kansas City community for over twenty years,” the petition reads. “No one in law enforcement should be charged with armed criminal action for protecting their partner in the line of duty – but Officer DeValkenaere has been sentenced to prison for six years.
“Officer DeValkenaere comes from a law enforcement family and has dedicated his life to protecting and serving the citizens of Kansas City. His wife, Sarah, is a kindergarten teacher in the Park Hill School District.
“We are asking Governor Parson to grant his application for clemency and reduce his sentence to time served. Make your voice heard today!”
“What we are seeing from this petition is a groundswell of support for a man who has defended and protected the Kansas City community for over 20 years,” says Spencer Bone, executive director of Liberty Alliance, which posted the petition.
“No police officer should be charged with ‘armed criminal action’ for defending their partner from a violent criminal. Gov. Parson can remind the police community that he has their backs by listening to the people of Missouri and granting Det. Eric DeValkenaere’s application for clemency. It’s time for him to come home.”
The Heartlander asked the governor’s office if he’s open to clemency and whether such citizen feedback would influence his decision.
“Governor Parson welcomes citizen feedback,” Press Secretary Johnathan Shiflett said in a statement. “He has made no decision regarding clemency for Mr. Devalkenaere at this time.” There is no timeline for the decision, he said.
DeValkenaere was convicted in the death of Cameron Lamb, in a case that quickly became racially explosive because DeValkenaere is white and Lamb was black. Local media hailed the case as the first in which a Kansas City police officer was convicted in the death of a black man.
One activist warned Parson that if he grants clemency, “civic, business, philanthropic and community leaders should hold him and his political allies in the Missouri legislature accountable.” But it’s clear from the petition for clemency that many others feel differently.
DeValkenaere and his partner Troy Schwalm approached Lamb in his vehicle after it was observed chasing another vehicle following an argument, according to testimony. DeValkenaere testified Lamb pointed a handgun at Schwalm, prompting DeValkenaere to shoot Lamb.