No charges for Moraine police officers in deadly I-75 shooting

Chief: Man told to drop weapon 41 times.

Two Moraine police officers will not face any charges in a deadly shooting last month on Interstate 75 involving a nationally known knife designer.

A Montgomery County Common Pleas Court report from this week shows the grand jury issued “no true bill of indictment” against the pair. Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Greg Flannagan said the case was handled by a special assistant prosecutor from an outside office.

A man whose car ended on its top in a crash early May 4 failed to comply with 41 requests to drop a gun before officers fired nine shots, Moraine Police Chief Craig Richardson said previously.

Elijah Isham, 27, was pronounced dead a short time later at a local hospital. He was a knife maker who specialized in the “ergonometric” design of folding utility knives. An autopsy performed by the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office determined Isham’s cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds. It also said that tests found marijuana intoxication.

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

“This went from a simple crash to a deadly force situation very quickly,” Richardson said during a media briefing the day after the shooting.

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.

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 northbound, 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 Isham cock the gun.

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

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 southbound.

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

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