U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- “The raid on [Jason] Kloepfer’s home, a camper trailer on a 3-acre parcel along a winding road 20 minutes outside Murphy, was prompted by a 911 call from the next-door neighbor placed just before 11 p.m,” Smoky Mountain News reports.
“’My neighbor about an hour ago started shooting off fireworks, screaming yelling he’s going to kill the whole neighborhood, yada yada, he’s discharging a firearm,’ the neighbor told dispatch. ‘I’ve been videoing all of this, but I was just gonna let it go. But I just heard his wife screaming “stop it,” and then a bunch of shots went off and now I can’t hear her over there at all.’”
Thus began a series of flawed assumptions leading to the shooting of a disabled man by the Cherokee Indian Police Department SWAT team.
As part of an ongoing investigation into what happened and how it happened, AmmoLand Shooting Sports News has obtained the Calls for Service (CFS) [aka:911] dispatch recording of events as they unfolded, along with the accompanying report, both embedded below.
The above-quoted excerpt, along with the recording and transcript, offers explanations for why law enforcement responded to the scene anticipating the worst. Actions on the part of Kloepfer, the man who was shot, explain the motivation for the neighbor calling the cops on him and for the first responder mindset throughout the series of events.
What these actions don’t mitigate or excuse is the police opening fire on him immediately after he emerged unarmed from his trailer with his hands raised and his wife directly behind him.
What’s apparent is that this is not the first time Kloepfer made noise by revving motorcycles, shooting fireworks, and playing loud music without consideration for the hour or for who it might disturb. Indications are the sheriff’s department had been called about him several times before, and law enforcement was familiar with him. However, the previous times appear to have been resolved without any citations or arrests, and deputies would have known that, too. Records of those previous calls, and how many may have been made by the neighbor who made the latest call, have not been obtained at this writing, but records show they were requested by the SWAT commander and “printed in [the] squad room.”
Here’s what look to be the damning parts from the CFS Report, [embedded below] at least on the surface and without further scrutiny:
“MALE WAS SAYING HE WILL KILL EVERYONE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD RP HAS ON VIDEO THE MALE SAYING SEND THE COPS ILL GET THEM TOO RP HEARD HIS WIFE SCREAMING STOP IT A BUNCH OF TIMES AND A COUPLE OF SHOTS AND NOW RP CANNOT HEAR HIM …HE FIRED ONE ROUND INTO THE GARAGE THAT IS SECURED. THE RP SAW THE MALE GO INTO THE CAMPER. SAW THE MALE SECURE THE GARAGE APARTMENT AND THEN WALK INTO THE CAMPER. THEY ARE UNABLE TO GET MALE TO COME OUT OF THE CAMPER.”
The first part was based on what the caller told dispatch. We don’t know that this is an accurate description of what happened vs. the subjective impressions of the caller, but at this point, the ensuing beliefs on the part of first responders were based on the assumption that Kloepfer was dangerous.
It’s understandable that the perceived threat level would be raised, and heightened caution would be appropriate. It’s also true that a caller can tell the police anything. In the absence of the “videotapes” the caller says she made (those are not available at this writing and will require further efforts and potentially a Freedom of Information Act request to try and obtain), that also needs to be a consideration in the minds of first responders.
They did not know if the allegations were true, made up, or simply mistaken. They did not know if the caller could reliably distinguish between gunshots and fireworks. To infer from shouting gone silent that one party may have violently silenced the other against their will is subjective and every bit as likely to have an entirely different explanation. The fact that Kloepfer’s wife was later found to have been sleeping with him peacefully until roused by a SWAT team robot bears that out. And that “altogether about ten shots” were reported, but the deputies found “one shell casing” points to yet another allegation not matching the evidence. And who knows when that particular round was fired?
Why would Kloepfer ever be shooting on his property at all? It’s a rural property. People do, and for a variety of legitimate reasons.
As for being unable to get Kloepfer “to come out of the camper,” the “why” still needs to be unraveled, but the record does raise a question of legality. The CFS recap notes at 11:46 p.m. on Dec. 12 that authorities were unable to make contact. It doesn’t mention until 2:27 a.m. on Dec. 13 that responders were “advised search warrant is being signed.”
In the absence of that, what are a citizen’s obligations for talking with the police?
Other revelations the recording and report raise compound the unique and peculiar events of the night. The Cherokee Indian Police Department did not have a current MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department and thus had no authority to act until a new one was signed. Everyone gathered at the station, so it’s noteworthy that neither the sheriff nor his chief deputy made it out to the scene where they were sending another department to take potentially lethal actions,
We also hear from the records that “There is a computer monitor inside the garage that shows the security camera footage from around the house,” so responders were aware of those. When police noticed a camera inside the trailer after shooting Kloepfer, that could mean they didn’t know about it and explain the expletive reaction heard on the video.
Reviewing that video again, one other point the police may bring up as they defend their actions may be that when Kloepfer was awakened by the police robot and turned on his bedroom light, it appears he defensively grabbed a handgun. But what is also clear, and it can be seen as he walks from the bedroom into the main living area, is that it is no longer in his hand.
Assuming the police robot was being monitored, its operator should have noticed that he picked it up, and that is what was in his hand. And the operator should have advised the rest of the team that was standing by with guns ready.
Another disconnect not readily apparent nor explainable is that after Kloepfer was shot, there was an EMS team with medics stationed a short distance from his property, who came in when given clearance and “requested a chopper.” A Google Maps aerial view of the Kloepfer property shows large cleared areas to the east and to the north that are directly adjacent.
“LIFEFORCE adv all declined due to weather,” they were told, and with life-threatening injuries, Kloepfer had to be driven to Chattanooga, approximately a two-hour drive. The curious thing that warrants further inquiry is the weather report for that night (Weather Underground defaults to the McGhee Tyson Airport weather station in Louisville TN for Murphy NC) does not indicate hazardous conditions for Dec. 13, so it does not seem inappropriate to expect investigators to explore who made that call and why.
Further questions it will be interesting to see if the investigators raise and answer:
- Are there bodycam videos from the on-scene officers?
- Was what the robot monitored recorded?
- Why did the Sheriff tell the public that Jason Kloepfer “engaged in a verbal altercation with officers and emerged from a camper trailer and confronted officers”?
- Why has Kloepfer been “been charged with Communicating Threats and Resist, Obstruct, and Delay,” when the threats appear to be hearsay based on random alleged utterances to no one in particular, no resistance was observed, and the obstruction and delay appear to have occurred before there was even a warrant?
- Why has Kloepfer said he and his wife have had to leave the state because they fear for their lives?
As a rule in law enforcement, different agencies know and work closely with each other. This is a small community, and it is incumbent that District Attorney Ashley Welch take that into consideration when determining an appropriate legal response to use of force protocol, Constitutional and possible criminal violations.
On the surface, this story appears to be one about police overreaction and a suspect learning FAFO realities the hard way, and not something directly related to protecting or advancing the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
In short, why is this article posted on AmmoLand News?
Because this could happen to any gun owner when any noisy, angry, or woke neighbor gives wrong information to law enforcement.
We’ve all heard of “swatting,” to where you don’t have to have done anything but made an enemy, even an unknown one who simply hates you for your political views. And we are increasingly subject to “red flag laws” where police can show up to confiscate firearms because they have been told you are a danger to yourself and/or others – all without due process.
In Kloepfer’s case, the default position of the first responders was to believe the allegations. The way they lit him up when he opened the door is all the indication we need that, assurances of professional training notwithstanding, the prime directive of everyone showing up to confiscate your guns is not to ensure your rights are protected but to ensure they make it home at the end of their shift.
The CFS Report and Dispatch Recording follow, above and below (Note: the original sound recording has been edited to leave out the name and telephone number of the neighbor who called the police):
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.