Body cams show deadly I-75 encounter with police, famous knife designer

Moraine Police officers involved in last week’s officer-involved shooting on Interstate 75 can be seen on body-worn camera footage released Tuesday pointing their firearms at the suspect, ordering him to drop a gun as traffic drives by the scene, then ultimately firing shots inside a vehicle that was already on its top.

The footage also shows an officer warning a paramedic that the man, later identified as 27-year-old Elijah Isham, had a gun, the officers requesting the fire department shut down the highway, an officer pepper-spraying the inside of the vehicle, an officer saying that Isham was smoking meth while holding the gun in his vehicle and what the officers said after firing the shots.

“He started pointing it towards me,” one officer says.

“He did,” the other replies.

“I did what I had to,” the first says.

ExploreWATCH: Body cameras show deadly I-75 shooting

The officers can then be seen approaching the vehicle, securing the gun and calling for medics.

The incident began when Moraine police and fire crews responded at around 6 a.m. on May 4 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,” said Police Chief Craig Richardson.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

“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.”

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

While officers were shouting commands, one asked if there were any less-lethal options on the scene. Moraine Sgt. Andrew Parish said the officers were looking for something like a bean bag round that would have immobilized Isham from a distance, but no options were available.

“Their commands were coming back with no response, so they were trying to get some response from this individual in order to further de-escalate,” he said.

Isham’s gun – which from police photographs released appears to be a reproduction Civil War-era Remington revolver – was later determined not to be loaded. Isham was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

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.

Montgomery County Coroner Kent Harshbarger said an autopsy was done over the weekend and Isham’s remains were released to a funeral home. He said toxicology testing will be done to supplement the physical examination.

Isham nationally known for designing knives

According to social media, Isham was nationally known as a knife maker who specialized in the “ergonometric” design of folding utility knives. Isham sold his knives under the business name Isham Bladeworks and had amassed a following of over 16,000 on Instagram.

Several posts published on Facebook memorialized Isham and his craft following his death.

“We lost perhaps the most original knife designer ever. Many of his designs looked like purely art knives — until you put it in your hand and found out it worked great. And while his designs varied wildly, you always recognized Elijah Isham’s hand at work,” one post reads. “He had dozens of knife designs being produced by some of the biggest and most prestigious knife manufacturers in the world.”

“This man was so special, and always had unique insight to knife design,” another post reads. “We always enjoyed talking knives and design each time we met. Elijah was always a joy to work with on collaborations, and we are proud to have some iconic designs to always remember him by.”

One post expresses confusion regarding Isham’s manner of death.

“He was known for his interesting knife designs, but I have never known of any controversy that he may have been involved in,” the post reads. “It’s a pretty strange story and kind (of) just out of nowhere.”

Multiple agencies continue investigations

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the crash, and the Tactical Crime Suppression Unit (TCSU) is handling the criminal investigation. Moraine police is conducting an internal investigation.

The TCSU is a task force formed by the cities of Centerville, Germantown, Kettering, Miamisburg, Moraine, Oakwood, Springboro and West Carrollton to pool resources and address issues in the region. Parish said Moraine Police does not have an officer investigating the police shooting.

“Those investigators are from other agencies within the task force,” Parish said.

Parish noted that in the footage, Lloyd can be seen with a camera around his neck as he was preparing to take pictures and document the crash scene before the gun was discovered. He said police officers are trained to always be aware of their surroundings.

The body camera footage also shows officers requesting the fire department shut down the highway as they had their guns drawn on Isham.

“At that point that was first and foremost, was to protect the public,” Parish said. “We still had traffic passing by the scene as those officers were trying to de-escalate and trying to get that gun out of play, so again that’s how we’re trained. We want to make sure that we secure the scene, protect the public in this, so case shutting down the highway was one of those first decisions made.”

Moraine Police implemented the body-worn cameras in July 2021, the sergeant said, and will be used to help officials as they investigate the incident.

“It depicts exactly what happened as it unfolded,” he said. “That’s how the policy was designed, the program was designed that way so that was can accurately show our interactions between our officers and the public. Both good and bad, it captures them all. It provides our investigators in this case with exactly what happened from the officer’s viewpoint.”

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