Chief: Man in I-75 crash told to drop gun 41 times before deadly shooting

Moraine’s police chief said a man whose car ended on its top in a crash on Interstate 75 early Wednesday failed to comply with 41 requests to drop a gun before officers fired nine shots.

The 27-year-old, Elijah Isham, was pronounced dead a short time later at a local hospital.

“This went from a simple crash to a deadly force situation very quickly,” Police Chief Craig Richardson said.

He said the Moraine officers asked about less-lethal options immediately available, but neither they nor an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper assisting at the crash scene had access, the chief said.

“They were just looking for options, any options,” he said.

Richardson said events unfolded this way:

Moraine police and fire crews responded at 5:46 a.m. to a two-vehicle crash on I-75 North near Dryden Road. One vehicle was on its top and a second in a ditch.

The officers had checked once on Isham, who was inside the car on its top, and were waiting on the fire department. “As they came back around the car, one of them noticed that he had a gun,” Richardson said.

Isham was pointing the gun and disobeying commands, Richardson said.

“The suspect had a gun, pointed the firearm at the officers, officers shot the suspect. The officers then immediately secured the weapon and called for the medics to come in and help,” Richardson said. “Officers attempted to engage the suspect for approximately 5 minutes. They gave him, we counted 41 commands over that 5 minutes to put the gun down, which he ignored.”

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

The gun was not loaded, Richardson said, but one of the officers saw the suspect cocking the gun.

The officers involved were identified as Sgt. Ken Lloyd and Officer Jerome Klemmensen. Lloyd is a 23-year veteran who is the midnight shift patrol sergeant while Klemmensen is a 26-year veteran on the day shift. The officers involved are on paid administrative leave in accordance with department policy.

The chief said it is unclear at this time what caused the situation to escalate.

The suspect had a .44-caliber revolver, the chief said, which from police photographs released appears to be a reproduction Civil War era Remington revolver.

Isham’s vehicle license plate and driver’s license were issued in Oregon, but he was believed to be living locally, Richardson said.

He has an April felony assault arrest in Colorado, and an active protection order against him but did not appear to have any active warrants, the chief said.

It is not clear what led to the crash, but Richardson said Isham “had to be traveling at a substantial speed.”

The driver of the car that landed in a ditch was one of the 911 callers following the crash.

“I have no idea what happened. I was in the slow lane coming up on the Dryden Road exit and someone hit me,” he told the dispatcher. “... There were sparks. I’m not even sure there’s not even a fire.”

The caller, who said he didn’t think he was injured, had no passengers in the vehicle.

The crash and shooting closed I-75 North from Central Avenue/South Dixie Highway to Dryden Road for several hours and also temporarily blocked a couple lanes of I-75 South.

Isham’s official cause and manner of death are being investigated by the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the crash, and the Tactical Crime Suppression Unit is handling the criminal investigation. Moraine police will conduct an internal investigation.

Richardson, asked how he felt officers reacted, said it was early in the investigation and the process needs to play out, but added: “Face value, it does not appear they did anything wrong at this time.”

The last fatal shooting involving Moraine officers was in 2017, and about 20 years before that, the chief said.