Kemp family, state settle lawsuit

Former State Trooper Ivan “Gene” Lawyer



Lawyer uniform photo

Former State Trooper Ivan “Gene” Lawyer

Former State Patrol Cp. Kirk Firko



Firko in uniform

Former State Patrol Cp. Kirk Firko

An agreement “in principle” on terms to settle a federal lawsuit in the 2010 shooting death of Redlands resident Jason Kemp has been reached, according to a filing this week in U.S. District Court in Denver.

In a jointly filed status report in the case, lawyers for the Kemp family, as well as those representing current and former Colorado State Patrol troopers who were involved in the July 20, 2010, incident that resulted in Kemp’s death, wrote the agreement is the product of more than two months of mediation.

The terms are unknown. The filing says the settlement must be submitted to the Office of State Controller for approval, the agency which manages Colorado’s financial affairs and payouts.

The American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of Kemp’s family, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in May 2011, naming Trooper Ivan “Gene” Lawyer, Cpl. Kirk Firko, Sgt. Chad Dunlap, Ralph Turano, a State Patrol legal training attorney, and 10 unnamed State Patrol employees.

While Turano was dropped from the lawsuit in February, U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock refused to dismiss Dunlap from the case, while ruling the sergeant’s actions “directly facilitated and contributed to the warrantless search and use of force.”

Dunlap was the supervisor in charge of the scene at 103 Glade Park, Unit B, where Lawyer and Firko repeatedly kicked and pounded at the front door toward apprehending Kemp as the suspected driver in a non-injury, drunken-driving accident. Kemp was shot in the doorway by Lawyer.

Babcock found Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure were violated.

“Even if the warrantless forced entry into Jason’s residence to obtain blood-alcohol evidence could be justified, the alleged force used by Defendants Lawyer and Firko far exceeded their interest in obtaining this evidence in a relatively minor situation,” Babcock wrote in February in refusing to dismiss Dunlap from the lawsuit.

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.

Both men were fired from the State Patrol on Sept. 25 after an internal affairs investigation.



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