The Kurious Kase of
Kurtis Kern Korff

In 2006, Kalvin's brother, Kurtis Kern Korff, got himself shot by the police in Josephine County, Oregon. Initially, Kalvin told people that if Kurtis is guilty, throw the book at him. Then, after Korff evidently talked to his Mother, Dorothy Toone, this story went off the rails.

This my friends is a very long and krazy story. Settle back and enjoy the show.

Man shot by deputy files federal lawsuit

From our weekly issue dated May 13, 2009

A multimillion dollar lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court against the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) and other local entities and officials regarding a 2006 shooting incident in O’Brien.

On Feb. 26, 2006, the victim of a home invasion altercation in O’Brien phoned 911 to report the incident. JCSO deputies James Geiger and Alan Johnson responded, and encountered a vehicle on a driveway near the 37000 block of Redwood Hwy. Five people were in the car, including Kurtis Kern Korff.

Accounts differ as to what exactly happened next, but Korff ended up being shot in the head. The deputies reported that they were acting in self-defense.

Korff subsequently was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, first-degree attempted assault, and attempted murder. The latter stemmed from allegations that Korff tried to run Geiger over with the vehicle.

Korff’s first criminal trial took place in June 2007, and ended in a mistrial. A retrial started on Feb. 28, 2008.

A 10-member jury convicted Korff of the assault charge, but found him not guilty of attempted murder. Korff, who had already pleaded guilty to the weapons charge, was sentenced to 40 months in prison, with credit for time served.

According to court papers, Korff is currently an inmate at the Mill Creek Correctional Facility in Salem.

Anatomy of the Lawsuit

On Tuesday, April 28, Josephine County received the $3 million lawsuit notification, which was filed by an attorney representing Korff. The county is listed as a defendant in the suit, along with JCSO, Geiger, Johnson, Sheriff Gil Gilbertson, the Oregon State Police, Josephine County Adult Corrections and Jeffrey Dovci.

Dovci had testified as a forensic expert for the prosecution during Korff’s criminal case.

Among other items, the suit alleges that those persons and entities engaged in civil rights violations, conspiracy to interfere with civil rights violations and violation of the Equal Protection Act, and demands a trial by judge.

States the suit: “Individually listed Defendants are liable for violations of the Oregon Constitution, and are liable for assault, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of physical distress, endangering the life, safety, health and physical well being of Plaintiff Kurtis Kern Korff; negligent infliction of emotional distress, perjury; conspiracy to commit perjury and lie, conspiracy to commit malicious prosecution in violation of state laws.”

The suit accuses the county and OSP of “knowingly engaging in and conspiring to execute a false or phony prosecution which was only and always without merit; it was in fact malicious prosecution.” It states that the defendants also “carried out their wanton and malicious acts entirely based on false pretenses, whereas others of these Defendants actually fabricated evidence.”

Geiger “is sued both in his individual and official capacity” and is accused of “unlawful and unjustified use of deadly force” against Korff. The suit also states that Geiger “lied under oath and under penalty of perjury about his involvement and direct role in the shooting and attempted murder” of Korff, along with Johnson.

Johnson and Geiger “fired a total of seven rounds from their weapons between them,” the suit states. It accuses Johnson of “specifically shooting Plaintiff Kurtis Korff in the right temporal region of his head, from ‘point blank’ range.”

Official Forensics Questioned

The suit also casts aspersions on the forensics used in Korff’s criminal case.

“The processing of the crime scene and its claimed ‘evidence’ was not performed in an objective nor scientific manner,” the suit states. “OSP and Defendants Josephine County failed to adequately investigate and process this crime scene, which resulted in the Plaintiff being falsely charged with attempted murder and assault.”

Also mentioned in the suit is the accusation that Geiger’s father, a JCSO reserve deputy, “‘guarded’ the crime scene involving an officer shooting by his own son.”

Particular questions are raised in the suit surrounding the ballistics of the bullet shot at Korff.

The suit states, “Police reports indicate Geiger shot Korff through the windshield. Bullets that penetrate glass usually have fragments of glass embedded in them.

“Absolutely no glass was identified by the crime lab nor in any examination conducted by any party on the bullet that penetrated Korff. No fine glass fragments were noted in or near the entrance wound.”

Lingering Medical Issues

According to the lawsuit, “Korff required two units of blood transfused and was emergently transported via Life Flights to OHSU Hospital in Portland” immediately after being shot on Feb. 26, 2006.

The suit states that the bullet that struck Korff was removed from his jaw on July 20, 2006, nearly six months after the shooting. It is now claimed in the lawsuit that Korff’s jaw has healed improperly because of the delay.

“His doctor indicated the bullet had caused a major infection and should have been removed much earlier,” the suit states. “This deliberate decision not to remove the bullet…caused extreme pain, permanent nerve damage, migraine headaches, balance and equilibrium problems that may be permanent now, thanks to Defendants willfully breaking the law, and now broken teeth.”

Korff has “suffered physical pain and suffering, including problems with ordinary tasks such as eating, walking and enjoying a pain-free life” since being shot, the suit states.

Claims for Relief

The first claim for relief listed in the lawsuit stems from allegations that the defendants deprived Korff of his civil rights “arising from the use of deadly force.” It singles out Geiger and Johnson, and states that the deputies “decided to use deadly force against Korff even after observing that Korff was unarmed” and “made a choice to use a higher level of force to make Korff comply with commands when Korff presented no danger to anyone and was therefore objectively unreasonable under the circumstances.

“Neither Defendant attempted to use a degree of force less than a gun,” the suit states. “Neither Defendant had probable cause to believe that Korff presented any danger to themselves or others.”

The second claim for relief states that Korff’s federal civil rights to due process were violated. It states that the defendants did not provide “exculpatory evidence in their possession to Plaintiff and his counsel” including crime scene photos, forensic tests, reports and internal affairs reports about the shooting.

According to the lawsuit, Korff’s criminal attorney, Mary Landers, “was not aware at the time of the first trial of the exculpatory evidence.”

The defendants listed in the suit are accused of attempting to coerce Korff into a guilty plea under the seventh claim for relief.

“Defendant deputies, acting under color of their offices, threatened, intimidated, and coerced Plaintiff while in his jail cell, or needlessly accompanied Plaintiff to medical appointments,” the suit states. “Said actions were done with the intent of scaring Plaintiff into pleading guilty.”

Johnson is specifically mentioned in the lawsuit, which states that he “repeatedly attempted to intimidate Korff.” The suit states that “Korff’s mother had to write the Sheriff to put a stop to Johnson’s intimidation of Korff,” and that Gilbertson later removed Johnson from duties at the jail as a result.

Neither Gilbertson nor Josephine County Legal Counsel Steve Rich would comment on the suit. Rich did state, however, that the county would seek outside counsel in handling it.