Pepper spray preceded shooting, trooper says

A Colorado State Patrol trooper said in a recent court filing he fired pepper spray inside a Redlands home, shortly before he allegedly shot and killed 31-year-old Jason Kemp.

Ivan “Gene” Lawyer, who pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in connection with Kemp’s death in the doorway of 103 Glade Park Road, Unit B, on July 20, 2010, acknowledged shooting the pepper spray “through the open door” of the home during an altercation with Kemp.

Lawyer, however, denied pepper-spraying Kemp in the face.

Interviewed two days after the incident, Ian Olson, a witness who testified to a grand jury, told The Daily Sentinel that Kemp was blinded by pepper spray before he was fatally shot in the chest.

Grand jury indictments did not address the pepper-spray issue.

Lawyer’s statements were made through an attorney and in response to a civil lawsuit filed by Kemp’s family. They represent the first time Lawyer, either directly or through an attorney, has formally responded since being charged by the grand jury in October.

Lawyer, along with State Patrol Cpl. Kirk Firko, are scheduled for a jury trial in December on multiple charges in the incident.

In response to the civil lawsuit, Lawyer’s private attorneys deny allegations that he and others caused Kemp’s wrongful death.

“Defendant Lawyer used no more force than reasonable under the circumstances,” wrote attorneys Cathy Greer and William O’Connell, with the Denver firm of Wells, Anderson & Race LLC.

Among defenses to the lawsuit, attorneys wrote, “Mr. Kemp may have been ... comparatively negligent and or his actions may have caused or contributed to his death.”

The grand jury’s indictment alleged Lawyer and Firko repeatedly pounded at the door of Kemp’s home, and Kemp refused them entry because they didn’t have a warrant. The troopers were investigating a non-injury traffic accident in which Kemp was the suspected driver. Kemp, who was unarmed, died after he was shot once in the chest.

Contrary to the grand jury’s findings, Lawyer denied in the civil lawsuit response that he already had his handgun drawn as he kicked at the door, just before the door jarred open and Kemp was shot.


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