The DHS Agent Who Tried To Kill Kevin Byrd Can’t Be Sued—Because He Works for the Federal Government
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agent Ray Lamb was not acting in his professional capacity when he approached Kevin Byrd in the parking lot of a Texas bar and allegedly threatened to “put a bullet through [his] fucking skull,” nor was Lamb on duty when he took his gun and attempted to smash the window of Byrd’s car. He was acting as a private citizen when he made those threats, which also included pulling the trigger. Luckily for Byrd, the gun jammed.
But Lamb has an advantage most other would-be murderers don’t: That gun was given to him by the government in his capacity as a federal law enforcement officer. Now, Lamb’s badge is insulating him from responsibility for his actions, as current legal doctrine essentially makes it impossible to hold federal officers accountable in civil court—even for actions taken in their personal lives.
“It’s the definition of official corruption,” says Anya Bidwell, an attorney with the Institute for Justice (IJ), a public interest law firm representing Byrd in a suit against Lamb. “He used the power given to him by the federal government to benefit his own private interests.”
On the morning of February 2, 2019, Byrd arrived at a bar in Conroe, Texas, to speak with someone on-site who could shed light on a gruesome car crash his ex-girlfriend, Darcy Wade, had been in after leaving that establishment in the hours prior. Unsure she’d survive, Byrd had just visited her in the hospital after Wade’s new boyfriend—an inebriated Eric Lamb, Ray Lamb’s son—drove headlong at 70 miles per hour into a Greyhound bus.
Lamb approached Byrd as he sought to leave the parking lot, furious that Byrd was collecting details on his son’s drunk driving. Both men dialed 911, but it was Byrd who ended up in the back of a police car.
“If I tried to do this and Kevin called police…they would immediately detain me. It would be clear as day that I am the one who is trying essentially to hurt this person,” posits IJ’s Bidwell. “Not only is it that DHS Officer Lamb is trusted here when local police arrive, but then when you try to sue him, you can’t sue him, because he happens to work for the government. There is essentially no win for plaintiffs in such cases.”
Indeed, a federal court ruled in March that Lamb’s federal badge also serves as a s
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