After enormous pressure from the parents of 17-year-old John Albers and a lawsuit from a Kansas City television station, the city of Overland Park on Thursday released four dashcam videos and a nearly 550-page report into Albers’ fatal shooting at the hands of police in 2018.
The report and the numerous photos, videos and recorded interviews that accompany it were compiled by the Johnson County Officer-Involved Shooting Team in the days after the shooting.
Albers was shot on Jan. 20, 2018, after Overland Park police officers responded to a call that he was suicidal. The teenager was alone at his family’s home at the time, and when police arrived, he began backing a minivan out of the house’s garage.
The very first line of the report said, “The OISIT report reflects a complete and thorough investigation.”
But Albers’ parents, Shelia and Steve Albers, think it was anything but.
“This was not an investigation. It was victim blaming,” they said in a statement to KCUR. “The fact that (Johnson County) District Attorney Steve Howe and (Overland Park Police) Chief Frank Donchez found this report to be sufficient is alarming.”
Indeed, the first few pages of the report deal with Albers’ minor brushes with the law.
The city also released a video of former Overland Park Police Officer Clayton Jenison’s interview in which he described the incident.
“I approached the garage door. The vehicle started backing out. I told him to stop. He didn’t listen to my commands,” Jenison told the OISIT investigator. “I shot.”
Dashcam video shows Jenison fired twice before the minivan made a “J” turn and began driving forwards.
“I believed he was going to hit me, so I fire again,” Jenison said.
This time, Jenison fired 11 more times through the passenger side window. It took 24 seconds from the time the garage door opened until Jenison stopped firing.
Six of the bullets hit Albers, killing him.
Albers’ family says this report contained a lot about their son but not about Jenison.
“This ‘investigation’ contains little information about the officer who fired his weapon 13 times or his performance as a police officer,” the Albers’ statement said.
A month after the shooting, the Johnson County District Attorney announced that no charges would be filed against Jenison, who at that point had not been identified by name. But federal authorities have since initiated a civil rights investigation into the shooting. That investigation is pending.
But a federal grand jury subpoena obtained by KCUR through the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) request reveals at least some of what the FBI is investigating.
The subpoena, served last November, demanded all investigative records from Albers’ killing, including all dashcam video and Jenison’s body cam audio.
It also required the city to hand over all of Jenison’s personnel records.
In January 2019, Overland Park paid Albers’ parents $2.3 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit they had filed against the city and Jenison.
In March, a Johnson County judge ordered Overland Park to turn over its severance agreement with Jenison.
The city had denied The Kansas City Star’s request for the agreement under the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA), arguing it was not an “employment-related agreement” subject to disclosure under the law.
While acknowledging it paid Jenison $70,000 in severance, Overland Park had declined to disclose the terms of the agreement. Jenison resigned from the department not long after he shot Albers.
KSHB-TV Channel 41 also sued the city, seeking to force it to disclose the complete files of its investigation into the shooting. The lawsuit is still pending.
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.