Trooper found not guilty of criminally negligent homicide, three other charges
Jurors in the trial of trooper Ivan “Gene” Lawyer have declared him not guilty of four of the charges against him and were unable to come to a clear decision on two others this afternoon. He was found not guilty of criminally negligent homicide, first degree criminal trespass, prohibited use of a weapon and criminal mischief in the death. Jurors were hung on charges of second degree assault and illegal discharge of a firearm.
Lawyer faced the felony charges in the shooting death of 31-year-old Jason Kemp, 31, on July 20, 2010. Kemp was fatally shot in the doorway of his home at 103 Glade Park Road, Unit B. The trooper had repeatedly kicked at Kemp’s front door in what started as a non-injury traffic accident investigation.
Lawyer testified he thought Kemp might have had a weapon and said he saw Kemp’s right arm raise up quickly when the door suddenly flew open.
Kemp was unarmed.
Lawyer and State Patrol Cpl. Kirk Firko were knocking at Kemp’s door after a witness told Lawyer that a male driver, shirtless and wearing plaid shorts, who appeared unsteady and possibly drunk, had crashed his pickup truck. The truck was high-centered on a large berm in the front yard of a home on South Broadway, but the driver was able to free the truck and return it the short distance to 103 Glade Park Road, unit B, and went back inside the home. There was minimal property damage.
Prosecutors argued Lawyer’s and Firko’s repeated kicks on the front door, and eventual entry into the home, represented a violation of Kemp’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful, warrantless search and seizure.
Lawyer’s defense, however, said Lawyer was acting with the scope of duties as a law enforcement officer and consistent with his State Patrol training.
Lawyer was charged in October 2010 by Mesa County grand jury with criminally negligent homicide, second-degree assault, illegal discharge of a firearm and first-degree criminal trespass, plus misdemeanor counts of prohibited use of a weapon and criminal mischief.
Firko is still slated for trial starting July 16.
Read the full story in Friday’s Daily Sentinel.