After three years, Overland Park will release investigation into police shooting of John Albers

The investigation by a group of Johnson County law enforcement officers assigned to police-involved shootings has been kept under wraps since 17-year-old John Albers was shot and killed by an Overland Park police officer in 2018. Above, Sheila Albers, John Albers' mother, speaks at a press conference Monday where local clergy decried the Overland Park Police Department's handling of the shooting death of her son. Photo credit Carlos Moreno/KCUR 89.3.

By Sam Zeff 

A statement from Overland Park issued late Monday night said the city will release the details about the investigation into the death of 17-year-old John Albers, who was fatally shot by police as he was backing out of his driveway in 2018.

The teen’s killing was investigated by the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team (OISIT), a group composed of investigators from various law enforcement agencies in Johnson County.

The Albers family has been asking to see the report for three years, and it is the subject of a lawsuit filed against the city by KSHB-TV in Kansas City.

“Misinformation has been circulated resulting in a serious erosion of public trust over this period of time,” Overland Park said in its statement. “Continuing to withhold the Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Team report has become an obstacle to restoring the community’s trust and confidence in the City of Overland Park, its officials, and the Overland Park Police Department.”

The city says it will release the report later this week, although a day and time were not specified.

“Pardon me, I’m a little skeptical because I don’t know what’s in that report and I don’t know if they’re still withholding any key information,” Sheila Albers, John Albers’ mother, told KCUR this week.

Albers says she is sure she will learn new information about her son’s killing by former Overland Park police officer Clayton Jenison.

But she is worried about just how much Overland Park will redact from the report. “Will it be all of the information? Or will it be what Overland Park has done in the past, and that is, cherry-picks information that fits their story?”

The Kansas City Star reported Tuesday that Albers and her husband, Steve, intended to view OISIT’s investigative report this week as soon as their lawyer was available to accompany them.

The city in its statement said it would offer the Albers the opportunity to view the report before its public release.

The release of this report comes in the midst of two ongoing investigations into the OPPD.

One is by the FBI into potential civil rights violations in the killing of Albers. As KCUR first reported, the city had to respond to a federal grand jury subpoena in November demanding reams of information about the shooting and Jenison. The subpoena would have covered the OISIT report to be released this week.

The subpoena also would have included the $70,000 severance deal the city made with Jenison to leave the department.

That severance agreement led to an investigation into OPPD Chief Frank Donchez by the Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training (CPOST), the organization that regulates police officers’ licenses in Kansas. Donchez reported to CPOST, per the severance deal, that Jenison resigned voluntarily “Under Ordinary Circumstances.”

Albers filed a complaint with CPOST claiming Jenison’s resignation was not ordinary. “On two separate occasions, Overland Park Chief Frank Donchez has either verbally or in writing provided false statements in his role as a KS law enforcement officer,” Albers charged in a March complaint.

CPOST will eventually hold a public hearing on Donchez’s license but at this point, a hearing has not been scheduled.

KCUR 89.3 is Kansas City’s NPR affiliate public radio station. You can read and listen to more of their reporting at kcur.org.