Trooper trainee testifies as witness to Kemp shooting
Colorado State Patrol Trooper Ivan “Gene” Lawyer and Cpl. Kirk Firko drew their handguns simultaneously after someone inside 103 Glade Park Road unit B, told them to “get a warrant” after having a door slammed in their face, according to one man’s testimony this morning.
Firko declared, “we don’t need a warrant, we have probable cause,” Alex White, currently a cadet with the State Patrol’s training academy, testified during direct examination by District Attorney Pete Hautzinger.
White testified both troopers started kicking at the door.
“It seemed like they were trying to break through,” White told jurors.
White had tagged along with Lawyer on the night of July 20, 2010, completing a “ride along” with an eye on a career in the State Patrol. He testified he was standing roughly 60 feet away, across the street from Kemp’s house. White testified Firko left Lawyer by himself at the front door during the confrontation after an individual had emerged from the side of the home. Firko detained the individual.
White told the jury he heard a lone gunshot, looked back at the front door and saw Lawyer standing, “in the doorway or just inside the house.”
White said he signaled and yelled at the “three to four children” along with an adult, who were standing outside and down the street, to get back inside their homes. White said a distraught Lawyer ran to his patrol car, put on gloves and other gear for CPR and rushed to help a fatally wounded Kemp.
Kemp was shot through the heart.
White was the prosecution’s second witness in the second day of testimony in the trial of Lawyer, who has pleaded not guilty to a host of charges, including criminally negligent homicide, in Kemp’s death.
The prosecution argues Lawyer and Firko, who were investigating a non-injury traffic accident in which Kemp was the suspected driver, essentially violated Kemp’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure in trying to kick in Kemp’s front door. Lawyer’s defense claims the troopers had lawful reasons, probable cause for an arrest on DUI charges, to enter Kemp’s home.
‘Drop the gun’ statement questioned
Prosecutors tried to used White’s testimony toward questioning Lawyer’s statements to the grand jury.
Jim Hebenstreit, an investigator with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, testified on Tuesday during cross-examination that Lawyer told the grand jury he yelled out a command, “drop the weapon,” just before the fatal shooting.
Eric Fenster, Lawyer’s attorney, told the jury during opening statements that Lawyer believed Kemp might have had time to arm himself with a handgun during the confrontation. Hebenstreit said there was no evidence in the investigation suggesting Kemp had threatened anybody with a weapon, displayed one or that anybody saw a weapon associated with Kemp. He was found to be unarmed.
A homeowner who was interviewed by authorities on 25 Road reported hearing someone yell out, “drop the weapon,” although White and a second man who were closer to the front door of Kemp’s home didn’t report hearing any such command.
“We couldn’t corroborate it,” Hebenstreit said, when asked about Lawyer’s claim to the grand jury.
Read the full story in Thursday’s Daily Sentinel.