‘Murder,’ man’s kin say during his funeral
Several of the mourners who spoke during Tuesday’s memorial service for Jason Kemp referred to the Grand Junction man’s death as murder.
Kemp, 31, was shot and killed July 20 in what multiple witnesses described as a confrontation between Colorado State Patrol troopers and Kemp at the doorway of a Redlands home.
Family and friends said Kemp was a river-loving free spirit who aimed to better himself and always was quick to help others.
“... On the day of his murder, I’m sure he would have helped people further ... ,” Kemp’s brother, Roger, told mourners Tuesday while reading a poem he said he wrote in his brother’s honor.
Roughly 100 people turned out for a celebration of Kemp’s life at the auditorium of Canyon View Vineyard Church in Grand Junction.
“His murder was unjustified,” Roger Kemp added in the poem.
A slide show set to music showed Kemp’s grade-school class photos, his penchant for water sports and several images of Kemp with family, some of whom arrived from Iowa to attend Tuesday’s service.
“He had his run-ins with the cops, but he definitely didn’t deserve to go out like that,” said Ian Souter, 25, a cousin of Kemp’s. “Hopefully we can get justice.”
And that would be?
“Knowing the truth behind it,” Souter replied. “If there was no reason to shoot him, the officer should be held accountable.”
Ian Olson, who was a pallbearer for his slain friend, told The Daily Sentinel last week that Kemp was unarmed when he was hit by pepper spray and shot after refusing to open the front door for troopers at 103 Glade Park Road, unit B.
Authorities have declined comment on Olson’s claims and have not answered questions about the incident, citing separate criminal and internal investigations.
“There are times and moments when death comes in as an obscene intruder ... unwelcomed,” Pastor Paul Watson told Tuesday’s service-goers.
“Jason was supposed to be changing my oil Wednesday (July 21),” the pastor added.
Kemp had been serving two years of supervised probation related to a drug arrest in July 2009. Court records reviewed by The Daily Sentinel showed Kemp had been arrested or issued summonses 11 times dating back to 1999.
Chris Edwards, Kemp’s father-in-law, said Kemp appeared to have turned a corner after his most recent legal problems and was in the early stages of starting his own automobile mechanic service.
“He was real excited because he was starting to get a few calls about it,” Edwards said.
Watson, who described himself as a longtime family friend, had the same perspective on Kemp’s reported turnaround.
“Jason was just starting to figure out life,” Watson told mourners. “I hope you’re in that place and hope that place finds you.”
Pastor Tim Nutting read statements on behalf of several friends and family, including Kemp’s sister, Leisel.
“The Kemp family will seek justice,” Nutting said toward the end of Leisel’s letter.
NEIGHBOR: TROOPER PERFORMED CPR
A next-door neighbor at 105 Glade Park Road said a pair of troopers on July 20 approached the home where the shooting happened, shortly after a traffic accident in which Kemp was suspected of driving his pickup into the front yard at 2501 South Broadway.
Ian Olson last week acknowledged he and four others, including Kemp, had been drinking alcohol while riding a personal watercraft in the hours prior to the accident.
The next-door neighbor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he went outside and watched from the roadway after hearing the crash. He described his vantage point as roughly 40 feet from the front door at 103 Glade Park Road, unit B.
He said two troopers walked up to the house, yelling for those inside to open the door and identifying themselves as police. They pounded and kicked at the front door, the neighbor said.
“I could hear the dude yelling, “You ain’t got a (expletive) warrant,” the neighbor said.
The troopers’ kicks had such force that they shattered a long section of the doorway’s frame, according to the neighbor, and one of the troopers grabbed the shattered wood and shoved it in the doorway, preventing the man inside from shutting the door completely. The neighbor said he watched one of the troopers shoot pepper spray inside an opening created by the wedged wood.
During the roughly five-minute confrontation, one of the troopers radioed for backup, describing a “barricaded subject” inside, the neighbor said. One trooper walked to the rear of the property, leaving his colleague alone, the neighbor added.
“The cop had his gun drawn and was kicking at the door at the same time,” the neighbor said.
“He gives it a kick, the door flies open, and I think the bottom of the door hit (Kemp, who was wearing no shoes),” the neighbor said.
Kemp and the trooper were moving away from one another when Kemp was shot, the neighbor said, adding he couldn’t see a weapon in Kemp’s hands or anywhere nearby.
The trooper immediately ran to his patrol car, where he retrieved rubber gloves and radioed for an ambulance. The trooper then ran back to the doorway, where he performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Kemp for several minutes before being escorted away, according to the neighbor’s account.
“He was distraught. He leaned up against a fence and kicked it ... he was kind of crying,” the neighbor said.