Indictments in fatal shooting case against State Troopers unsealed

Corporal Kirk Firko

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Colorado State Patrol releases a statement in regards to the shooting of 31-year-old Jason Kemp.

“Any loss of life is tragic and our thoughts are with the Kemp family,” said Colonel James Wolfinbarger, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “At the same time, we remain concerned about our members. This is a very difficult time, especially for those who serve in the Grand Valley," Colonel Wolfinbarger said.

“The job of a law enforcement officer is extremely complex. Every day officers across this country are faced with situations that require split-second decisions that may have life or death consequences.”

“I am fully confident in our judicial process and now, more than ever, it is important not to rush to judgment, by remaining objective and allowing the process to run its due course.”

Trooper Lawyer and Corporal Firko have been placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of the proceedings.
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - The Grand Jury indictments against two Colorado State Troopers involved in a fatal shooting on the Redlands in July has been unsealed.

According to the indictments, Trooper Ivan Lawyer and Corporal Kirk Firko were accused on a variety of charges in the shooting death of 31-year-old Jason Kemp.

Lawyer has been indicted on charges of criminally negligent homicide, second degree assault, illegal discharge of a firearm, first degree criminal trespassing, prohibited use of a weapon and criminal mischief.

Firko has been indicted on two counts of first degree criminal trespass, two counts of criminal attempt to commit first degree criminal trespass and criminal mischief.

Lawyer was also facing charges of second degree murder and manslaughter but it was recommended he not be charged with those counts by the Grand Jury.

The indictment says Lawyer and Firko were called to an accident near Glade Park Road and South Broadway involving a pickup pulling a trailer and jet ski. Callers said the jet ski fell off the trailer and the truck was stuck in a neighbor's yard. They also said it appeared as if the three people trying to remove the truck were intoxicated.

When Troopers arrived, the truck and people involved were gone from the scene but were found just down the street at 103 B Glade Park Road.

Lawyer and Firko knocked on the door, no one answered. Lawyer, according to the indictment, looked in a front window with a flashlight and saw the person who was described as the driver of the truck inside the house. He was identified later as Kemp.

Troopers say they identified themselves as law enforcement and demanded he speak with them. Lawyer went to the back door to attempt contact and Firko tried the front door handle. The door was unlocked so Firko opened it. The indictment says Kemp tried to close the door on Firko, but had to open it again to grab his dog and Firko was unable to catch Kemp at that time.

Lawyer went back to the front door, the indictment says. He and Firko kicked at it, breaking the frame. Lawyer wedged a piece of the door frame on the threshold so it couldn't be fully closed. Both troopers kept kicking at the door and Kemp kept it closed with his body. He was, according to the indictment, yelling at the officers they couldn't enter the home and had no warrant to do so. He also told them to leave.

The Troopers kept trying to enter the home hoping to arrest Kemp on DUI, failure to report an accident and other charges. Both believed they needed to get him under arrest quickly so the chemical tests needed to prove he was intoxicated, could be performed.

According to the indictment Firko noticed the two other people, Anthony Martinez and Ian Olson, leaving the home from the back door. Firko tried to detain them while Lawyer continued kicking at the front door to reach Kemp. Lawyer went briefly to help Firko with Martinez and Olson.

The indictment says Lawyer worried he'd left Kemp alone long enough for him to grab a weapon. He went back to the front door where Kemp was still barricading it with his body. Lawyer drew his gun, stepped back from the door and kicked it again. This time, it swung open and Lawyer saw Kemp in a darkened room standing next to the door. Lawyer says in the indictment Kemp lifted and extended his arm upward as if he was pointing a gun at him but couldn't see his hands.

The indictment says Lawyer "saw a flash, and believed he, himself, had been shot by Jason Kemp." Lawyer realized he had actually fired a shot at Kemp, hitting him in the chest. The indictment says once he realized this he began CPR on Kemp but was unable to save him. No weapon was found anywhere near Kemp's body.

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - A source has confirmed to 11 News a Grand Jury has recommended two of the three Colorado State Troopers involved in a fatal shooting in July be charged in connection to the case.

Our source tells us Trooper Gene Lawyer was indicted on negligent homicide (class 5 felony), criminal trespassing (class 4 felony) and second degree assault (class 5 felony) charges after shooting 31-year-old Jason Kemp.

Corporal Kirk Friko, according to the source, was recommended to be charged with trespassing. Sergeant Chad Dunlap was also at the scene that day, we have no information that he will be charged.

All three troopers all responded to the scene of what was first reported as a hit-and-run accident on Glade Park Road in the Redlands the night of July 20.

A Grand Jury was selected to decided if the charges were to be filed. They convened at the end of September. District Attorney Pete Hautzinger has said this was the most difficult officer-involved shooting case he'd ever dealt with, which is why he asked the Grand Jury to take it up.

He told 11 News the panel's ability to issue subpoenas and question witnesses would be beneficial to the case, but more importantly gave him what he called a "sounding board" to see how normal citizens reacted to certain issues involved in the case.

Colorado State Patrol has told 11 News a press release regarding this case can be expected today but could not confirm any information.

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