GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Today will start the jury trial in the case of Jason Kemp, who was shot and killed back in summer of 2010. Colorado State Trooper Ivan Lawyer will face a Jury and a Judge today in the case, one that KKCO 11 News has been following since the beginning, and today might just mark the beginning of its end.
July 2010: Officers are called to the site of an accident near Glade Park Road, not far from the home of then 31-year-old Jason Kemp. He had fled the scene in a hit and run.
A short while later, Kemp refused to allow Colorado state troopers Ivan Lawyer and Kirk Firko to enter his home, saying he was armed. Lawyer mistook a flash of light for a gun shot, causing him to fire his gun at Kemp, who died on the scene shortly after.
"I think it is a tragic situation for all concerned,” says District Attorney Pete Hautzinger. “The Kemp family lost their beloved son, and the two defendants are facing serious consequences and the potential loss of their careers."
It was later determined that Kemp was unarmed.
Flash forward to May of 2011: An American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the officers, plus one other and two training supervisor. The lawsuit claimed the officers were negligent and had insufficient training.
Just a few months later, KKCO 11 News spoke to the only witness in Kemp’s home at the time of his shooting.
"It’s overwhelming...Not easy being back here,” says Ian Olson, a friend of Kemp’s.
That same month, Lawyer and Firko did face a jury, pleading not guilty to several charges Firko being charged with criminal trespassing and criminal mischief, while Lawyer faced the very serious charge of criminally negligent homicide.
Separate trials were set for December. Defense lawyers had asked for more time, and the new trial date was set for today, April 9 at 9 a.m.
Most recently, a judge had ruled that the searching of Kemp’s home was illegal. Back in February, U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock ruled that Firko and Lawyer violated Kemp’s 4th amendment right against illegal search and seizure while investigating a traffic accident
KKCO 11 News will continue to keep you updated as we find out more from court.