Cop resigns in fatal shooting of unarmed student

Shefali Lakhani and Jeanna Sheridan, CNN

A Missouri State Highway Patrol detective convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man last year has resigned, local media reported.

Gilbert Toler, 48, accepted the resignation at a court hearing Wednesday morning in Missouri. The Missouri Attorney General’s Office earlier asked Toler to resign because it said it “poses a continuing threat to public safety and because he has been convicted of a felony offense,” according to CNN affiliate KSDK.

His next court date is May 6. Toler is free on $50,000 bond.

Toler is the only person charged in the death of Cameron Lamb, a University of Missouri student from Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Lamb’s sister Haley Lamb, 15, was also shot. Both have said the shooting was unjustified.

“Gilbert Toler’s resignation today is the first step toward beginning the healing process for all of us in our family,” Haley Lamb said in a statement. “It’s been a long road filled with questions and feeling like we’re living in a nightmare. We want the public to know that we have moved on from this tragedy and continue to focus on healing.”

A 2014 graduate, Lamb died February 5 of a head wound that investigators said came from a single bullet. He was shot in the mouth, shoulder and back. Toler testified Lamb held a knife and posed a danger to the detective. Prosecutors say the detective was trying to detain Lamb, who ran and ran, ending up on a roadway with a knife in his hand, and that Lamb lunged at the detective before he shot him.

But Lamb’s family argued the teenager was fleeing from the police, and was not a threat, according to CNN affiliate KSDK.

“From my experience, this type of case is almost always on the mind of law enforcement,” Rosemarie Nordmeyer, an associate professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, told CNN earlier this month. “When they are feeling vulnerable and having to make split-second decisions they tend to make defensive decisions. And then they’re affected, of course, by their knowledge of past trauma — it’s a scary situation. So all those things are added up.”

On Thursday, Lamb’s family expressed anger over Toler’s resignation.

“We felt helpless knowing that while a cop stood over my brother for over an hour while he was dying — in our home — that he would continue to make those very same split-second decisions that put him in that situation — all to protect himself,” Haley Lamb said.

A deadly confrontation at a South Carolina night club in 2009 sent State Trooper Jeremy Shaw, 35, to a neurosurgery unit for nearly a year. Shaw said in an interview that he believed it was the worst night of his life.

After the shooting, Shaw’s partner, Sgt. Robert Schroeder, accused him of causing more than 100 people to flee the Club Bamboo Night Club, according to the State Law Enforcement Division. Shaw’s attorney, E. Brock McClelland, said there was never any barricade erected at the club.

But the prosecutor at the time said a confrontation had occurred after Shaw tried to block a group of males from entering a van.

According to McClelland, Shaw drew his Taser and shot a man who later died.

It’s unknown if Toler will face charges for his role in Lamb’s death.

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