Witness: Cop shot unarmed man
State Patrol mum, is investigating fatal encounter
Jason Kemp was unarmed when a Colorado State Patrol trooper fatally shot him in the doorway of a Redlands home Tuesday night, according to a man who claims he was inside the home.
Kemp was among a group of river-lovers who’d just returned to the home of Kemp’s common-law wife after a trip in which they’d been drinking alcohol, said 30-year-old Ian Olson of Grand Junction.
“This was completely unjustifiable,” said Olson, who described himself as a longtime friend of Kemp. “He (Kemp) was holding the door shut, and just asked them for a warrant.”
Olson said he was detained and questioned by investigators in the immediate aftermath of the incident. He said he and Kemp were alone inside 103 Glade Park Road, unit B, shortly after an alcohol-fueled traffic accident in which Kemp crashed his Ford pickup in the yard at nearby 2501 South Broadway.
Olson said he was upstairs at the three-level duplex when he heard a pounding or kicking on the door.
“They said they were police officers, open the door, with a few expletives in there,” Olson said.
Kemp went to the doorway, engaged the officers in a verbal back-and-forth, yelling out, “Get a search warrant,” among other demands, Olson said.
Olson described Kemp as engaged in something of a “tug of war” with a trooper or troopers, with the door cracking open slightly before shutting again. Olson said he ran down the stairs, grabbed his friend and said, “You’re just making it worse,” and urged him to let the officers in.
Olson said Kemp responded, “No, they don’t have a warrant.”
A liquid, suspected to be pepper spray, was shot through the slightly opened doorway, hitting Kemp in the face and partially spraying Olson, according to Olson’s account.
“It (the struggle at doorway) just kind of stopped for about 20 seconds after that,” Olson said.
Olson claimed he used the opportunity to run downstairs, where he aimed to exit the back door, when he heard a single gunshot. Turning to look, Olson claims he watched his friend collapse onto a chair and then the floor.
“He was blinded (by pepper spray) by the time he was shot,” he said. “I guarantee it.”
Trooper Nate Reid, a spokesman for the State Patrol in Denver, said Thursday the State Patrol had no comment on Olson’s claims.
The Colorado State Patrol on Wednesday acknowledged an “exchange” happened between a trooper and Kemp at the doorway of the Glade Park Road home. The State Patrol has provided few other details and has refused to answer questions about what transpired Tuesday night, saying it is conducting an internal investigation alongside a separate criminal probe conducted by a collection of Mesa County law enforcement officials.
Among the questions to be answered is whether Kemp brandished any sort of weapon toward the trooper before the trooper took aim at Kemp’s chest, State Patrol spokesman Sgt. John Hahn said Wednesday.
‘YEAH, YOU REALLY GOT ME’
Jason Alan Kemp, 31, was no stranger to Mesa County law enforcement.
According to arrest records with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Kemp was arrested or issued a summons 11 times since 1999 on charges including possession of drugs, domestic violence, assault, burglary and obstructing a police officer.
Several of the cases led to probation sentences.
During a sentencing hearing March 24, Kemp could have received a maximum sentence of three years in prison under a plea agreement stemming from a drug arrest in July 2009. Instead, Kemp was sentenced by District Judge Valerie Robison to serve two years of supervised probation, which, among other conditions, included an order he be subject to random alcohol and drug testing.
Kemp’s most recent sentence came after he pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine related to an arrest July 3, 2009, in an alley behind a downtown Grand Junction bar.
A Grand Junction officer wrote in an arrest affidavit that he drew his gun because Kemp had his hands hidden behind a wall.
The officer wrote in the affidavit that he called out to Kemp, “Police officer, show me your hands.” He added, “Kemp hesitated, and then complied.”
The officer’s flashlight revealed a caked, white substance on the underside of Kemp’s nose, the affidavit said.
Kemp was arrested in April 2007 on a fugitive warrant for failure to appear in Arizona on a charge of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, according to court records. The case was dropped in September 2008 when Arizona officials were no longer inclined to press extradition.
In July 2005, Kemp was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, which authorities allege included a profanity-laced tirade against the arresting Grand Junction officer. Prosecutors in the case filed a transcript of a tape-recorded conversation between the officer and Kemp, who was handcuffed in a patrol car.
“Yeah, you really got me,” Kemp said, later adding, “You’re protecting and serving. (Expletive) what, your self ego?
“Are you recording me? Throw it in (expletive) court. ... Judge will probably think it is funny, what a piece of (expletive) you are.”