Note: we are republishing this story amid nationwide discussion regarding police reform and the relationship between police officers and their communities.
Police claim that the man was shot and killed for pointing a gun at a detective.
However, Cameron Lamb’s family maintains that it was a case of mistaken identity, and they have hired prominent Civil Rights Attorney Lee Merritt in their bid to seek justice for Lamb’s killing.
Kansas City Police Department stated that officers had been at 35th and College working an unrelated vehicle crash when an officer saw what seemed to be a red truck chasing a purple Ford Mustang.
A police helicopter in the area followed the truck to a home near 41st and College, which was later identified as the residence of 26-year-old Lamb.
The truck was in the backyard of the home when officers arrived at the scene on foot. According to the department’s report, the detective saw Lamb, who was in the truck, allegedly pull out a gun and point it at another officer at the scene.
The detective shot at killed Lamb. According to the department, both officers had been in plainclothes, but were in external black ballistic vests with “POLICE” written on them.
The department stated that the detectives were only present at the scene to find out about the disturbance caused by the truck and the mustang.
The family hired Merritt a week after the incident, who maintained that the department was withholding information on the case. However, the department claimed that the attorney was spreading false information through news media and social media platforms about the incident.
He tweeted that he was taking Lamb’s case, writing: “My office has been formally retained to represent the family of #CameronLamb who was killed by KCPD…as he was repairing cars in his own backyard. He was deeply loved and his murder represents an irreplaceable loss for this family. They demand justice.”
To which the Kansas Police Department replied: “@MeritLaw We would welcome conversation with Mr. Lamb’s family to answer as much as we can at this time. The investigation has shown it does not appear he was ‘working on cars’ when he and officers interacted. When investigators arrived, He was found with his left arm outside the driver’s window and underneath his left hand was a gun on the ground.”
The department was nevertheless slammed online for the shooting.
The department sent a statement to KCTV5 News “that details what led up to the shooting. It includes a transcript of radio traffic between officers.”
A radio transcript of the officers read:
Officer: Eastbound 43 and Cleveland – there’s a red truck chasing a maroon-colored Mustang.
Dispatcher: Copy. Are you going to follow the vehicle?
Officer: I didn’t know if 690 was still flying. It’s almost caused several accidents
Helicopter officer (aka 690): Yeah we’re at 35th and Hardesty right now heading that way. Where are they at?
Officer: They’re going so fast. I’m at 43 and Spruce. It’s like a deep purple Mustang with a white top, and there’s a pick-up truck chasing it.
Helicopter officer: What direction did you last see them at? I’ve got a red truck going WB on 45th.
Officer: They were eastbound 43 and Cleveland. Doing about 90.
Helicopter officer: Yeah this red pick-up’s doing about 60 coming down 45th Street, coming up on Cleveland now. He’s gonna’ run the red light and go NB. He went around a vehicle.
The driver of the truck presented a clear danger to other drivers, particularly the occupants of the purple Mustang he was chasing. The helicopter officers saw the truck back into a residential lot behind a house in the 4100 block of College. They directed officers on the ground to that location. They needed to determine why the driver was chasing the Mustang.
One officer went to the south side of the house, and one to the north. The officer who came from the south made contact with an individual in the back yard who was working on vehicles. The other officer from the north watched Cameron Lamb back the truck down the driveway. He saw Lamb pull a gun and point it in the direction of the other officer. The officer on the north side fired at Lamb. Lamb never exited the truck. The other individual who had been working on cars was not involved in the incident and was not injured.
Lamb was found with his left hand hanging out the truck’s window with a gun on the ground underneath it.
Speaking to the press in Lamb’s backyard, Merritt stated: “It very well may play out that this was a situation that was unavoidable but we, particularly this family, shouldn’t be guessing that a week later. There’s something that we call in practice, procedural justice. So when law enforcement feels that it’s necessary to use deadly force, they then have an obligation to the community and particularly to families, to provide a thorough explanation.”
“As a civil rights attorney, I think the home is particularly sacred, sacred under the Constitution and that deadly forced should be rarely used in these situations,” he added.
“His car was back here,” Merritt pointed into the backyard. “It’s actually also the place where he worked. It was a garage for him. So, it was both his home and place of business. I’ve learned through years of practice, that if there was a narrative that worked for law enforcement that would help people understand why this happened, they would have released it immediately.”
Merritt later tweeted: “Release all available footage to the family. They shouldn’t have to guess. No family welcomes a conversation with the department responsible for murdering their love one. The location where he was shot to death was his home/business where he repairs cars.”
The detective responsible was placed on administrative leave.
Sources: Law Enforcement Today