More shredding of the 4th Amendment and police malfeasance, though it appears, unlike in the two recently notorious cases, that the rest of the legal system isn’t letting this horror pass.
According to KKCO, the local NBC affiliate, Trooper Ivan Lawyer and Cpl. Kirk Firko “were called to an accident near Glade Park Road and South Broadway involving a pickup pulling a trailer and jet ski” in which “the jet ski fell off the trailer and the truck was stuck in a neighbor’s yard.” Callers “said it appeared as if the three people trying to remove the truck were intoxicated.” When Lawyer and Firko arrived at the scene, the men were gone, but the troopers followed them to Kemp’s house down the street. Kemp refused to let them in, saying (correctly) that they needed a warrant. Together Lawyer and Firko kicked in the door, and Lawyer shot Kemp in the chest at close range. Later he claimed that “Kemp lifted and extended his arm upward as if he was pointing a gun at him,” but no weapon was found anywhere near his body.
Both are on “unpaid administrative leave” while the courts sort this out, and both face a slew of charges, including criminal trespassing. The one who shot Kemp, Lawyer (and there’s an ironic name) is also facing charges of criminally negligent homicide, second degree assault, and illegal discharge of a firearm. Unfortunately, the grand jury chose not to indict him for second degree murder and manslaughter – which probably means that the prosecutor didn’t really try for it.
The ACLU’s statement pretty well summarizes this.
The state troopers were investigating a minor accident that resulted, at most, in minimal damage to a neighbor’s lawn. They suspected Jason was responsible for this minor accident and may have been driving under the influence of alcohol. But that provided no legal justification for proceeding without a warrant, drawing their guns, and attempting to kick down Jason’s front door. It certainly provided no justification for shooting him dead.
Jason was killed because he did what every American has the right to do. He insisted that police comply with the Fourth Amendment and obtain a warrant before entering a person’s home.
Hopefully, the legal system will recognize that these troopers were out of control, and punish them. Unfortunately, the most appropriate charges have already failed, so they will not receive the punishment they truly deserve.
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