In this case, ACLU lawyers filed suit against three Colorado State Patrol officers – and two training supervisors – in the wrongful death of an unarmed Grand Junction man who was shot at point-blank range and killed in the summer of 2010 when he refused to allow officers to enter his home without a warrant.
The suit is filed on behalf of Connie and Keith Kemp, the parents of Jason Alan Kemp, a 31-year-old Mesa State College graduate, who died at the scene after Trooper Ivan Lawyer shot him in the chest. The lawsuit asserts that Lawyer and two additional troopers at the scene, Corporal Kirk Firko and Sergeant Chad Dunlap, are responsible for Jason’s wrongful death as well as the illegal police actions that led to it, including attempting to break down Jason’s door when he told them they needed to get a warrant.
The state troopers were investigating a minor accident that resulted in minimal damage to a neighbor’s lawn. They suspected Jason was responsible and may have been driving under the influence of alcohol. When they knocked on Jason’s door, he refused to let them enter without a warrant. Instead of seeking a warrant, which the Fourth Amendment requires, the troopers proceeding to attempt to kick down the door, with guns drawn. When the door opened, Jason was shot and killed.
The lawsuit also names as defendants additional employees of the State Patrol whom the ACLU asserts were responsible for the constitutionally-deficient training of Lawyer, Firko, and Dunlap.
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