Indicted troopers appear in court
Two answer to charges in shooting death of unarmed man
Under criminal indictment in the shooting death of an unarmed Redlands man, two Colorado State Patrol troopers were accompanied by Front Range attorneys Tuesday during brief court hearings.
Appearing for the first time since a grand jury leveled charges in October, Trooper Ivan “Gene” Lawyer and Cpl. Kirk Firko were ordered by District Judge Richard Gurley to return again to court Jan. 11.
Denver attorney Harvey Steinberg, who represents Firko, asked Gurley to set the case out some 50 days to get transcripts from the grand jury’s proceedings. Steinberg also said he anticipates filing motions challenging whether there is probable cause to support the charges against his client.
Lawyer was represented by a Denver attorney, Eric Fenster.
Roughly a dozen friends and family of slain 31-year-old Jason Alan Kemp were in attendance, all wearing blue T-shirts with Kemp’s image on the front under the words, “In Loving Memory.”
The courtroom included high-ranking State Patrol officials, including District 4 Maj. Barry Bratt, commander of a nine-county area including Mesa County, and Capt. Ed Clark, who runs the Fruita branch. The officials sat on opposite sides of the courtroom from Lawyer and Firko.
Both troopers have been on unpaid administrative leave since they were charged Oct. 21.
Lawyer was indicted on suspicion of felony counts of criminal negligent homicide, second-degree assault, first-degree criminal trespass, illegal discharge, plus misdemeanor prohibited use of a weapon and criminal mischief.
Firko was indicted on suspicion of two counts of first-degree criminal trespass, attempted first-degree criminal trespass and criminal mischief.
Kemp was shot and killed July 20 by Lawyer in an apparent attempt by the troopers to force entry at 103 Glade Park Road, Unit B, during the investigation of a non-injury traffic accident. According to the indictments, Lawyer and Firko repeatedly kicked at the front door of the home after Kemp refused to open it and demanded they get a search warrant.
The encounter was outlined in detail by witnesses to The Daily Sentinel, including the published account of Ian Olson, 30, who said Kemp was unarmed.
According to the indictment, Lawyer had his gun drawn and told the grand jury he saw a flash after finally kicking the door open, before pulling the trigger.
The veteran trooper told the grand jury he thought he’d been shot.