Kemp family settles with State Patrol
Colorado ACLU announced today it finalized a million-dollar settlement with the Colorado State Patrol, the last chapter in a federal wrongful-death lawsuit brought on behalf of the family of Jason Kemp, who was shot to death in his home in 2010.
But in the end, according to the settlement paperwork, the State Patrol says it did nothing wrong.
The terms of the settlement include more than $1 million to Kemp’s parents, Georgia residents Keith and Connie Kemp, while the agency will implement new training for current and future troopers. The training will emphasize the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment and its limited exceptions, as well as de-escalation tactics and the limits on permissible use of force, ACLU said.
“ACLU lawyers were prepared to prove not only that state troopers violated the Constitution when they unjustifiably kicked in Jason Kemp’s front door and shot and killed him, but also that supervisors all the way up the chain of command were responsible for recklessly deficient training that was the ultimate cause of this needless and preventable death,” ACLU Denver legal director Mark Silverstein said in a statement Monday.
Troopers Kirk Firko and Ivan Lawyer were investigating a minor accident and suspected Kemp, 31, was responsible and that he may have been driving under the influence of alcohol on July 20, 2010, close to his home at 103 Glade Park Road, Unit B. Troopers knocked on Kemp’s door and when Kemp told them to return with a warrant, they broke down Kemp’s front door with guns drawn. When the door gave way, Lawyer fired his weapon, killing the unarmed Kemp.
Lawyer was found not guilty April 19 on state criminal charges, while the jury hung on two counts that were eventually dropped. Charges against Firko were dismissed after the Lawyer verdict.
The agency told the Sentinel on Sept. 25 Lawyer and Firko were fired after an internal investigation.
ACLU staff attorney Rebecca Wallace said discovery in the civil lawsuit revealed “systemic problems” in the State Patrol.
“We uncovered compelling evidence that high-ranking supervisors had fostered a culture that encouraged the use of overly aggressive law enforcement tactics, even when those tactics posed a very real risk to public safety,” Wallace said.
Read the full story in the Tuesday edition of the Daily Sentinel.