Trooper got pay of $42,000, disability
Colorado will pay State Patrol Trooper Ivan “Gene” Lawyer $41,903 in back pay after his trial acquittal and subsequent dismissal of criminal charges in the shooting death of Redlands resident Jason Kemp, according to the State Patrol.
Records provided by the agency also indicate Lawyer, who still faces a federal civil rights lawsuit in Kemp’s death, received temporary disability payouts while awaiting trial. The total amount of the disability payments isn’t clear.
Public records about Lawyer’s salary and compensation were disclosed after The Daily Sentinel requested the information under the Colorado Open Records Act.
Lawyer, who testified during his trial he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from Kemp’s shooting on July 20, 2010, said earlier this month he wants his job back.
He earns a monthly base salary of $5,818, not including state benefits.
Lawyer’s status changed to paid leave on May 3 when District Attorney Pete Hautzinger moved to dismiss two charges that were deadlocked after April’s jury trial. He was found not guilty of four other charges, including criminally negligent homicide.
The back payments for Lawyer cover the period from October 2010, when he indicted by a Mesa County grand jury, through May 3 of this year.
Lawyer, along with State Patrol Cpl. Kirk Firko, were placed on unpaid administrative leave. Kemp’s shooting remains under administrative review by the State Patrol.
Kemp, 31, was fatally shot by Lawyer in the doorway of Kemp’s former home at 103 Glade Park Road, Unit B, in what started as non-injury traffic accident investigation by Lawyer and Firko. Kemp was suspected of driving drunk.
While prosecutors in Lawyer’s trial argued the troopers violated Kemp’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure, jurors after the verdict said they believed the constitutional questions in Lawyer’s case were secondary to Lawyer’s state of mind and found he properly followed his State Patrol training.
Several jurors said they believed Lawyer had lawful reasons to enter the home after his testimony about a brief physical struggle involving Kemp and Firko at the front door of the home before Kemp eluded Firko’s grasp, went back inside the home and slammed the door shut.
Both Lawyer and Firko repeatedly kicked and pounded at Kemp’s front door. Kemp refused entry and demanded they get a warrant.
Prosecutors questioned Lawyer’s account, noting the trooper did not describe an encounter between Kemp and Firko during his 2010 grand jury testimony or during extensive interviews with Mesa County Sheriff’s Department investigators.