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John Albers' mother proposes changes in wake of report from The Washington Post

John Albers shooting scene
Posted at 7:23 PM, Aug 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-26 00:20:16-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Earlier this week, the shooting death of John Albers, an Overland Park teen, was featured in The Washington Post.

It was exposure we spoke to Albers' mother about on Wednesday, one day after the story was released.

In a report from KSHB 41, it featured two of the three authors from The Post about why this case caught their attention.

This is a topic KSHB 41 has covered extensively since it happened in early 2018.

Many local viewers will recall police were called to the teenager's family home after he made suicidal comments to friends online.

When police arrived, Albers was shot by Officer Clayton Jenison while backing the family's minivan out of his garage.

Jenison claimed he feared for his life, and Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe found the shooting was justified.

But The Washington Post created a 3D scan of that shooting and showed it to experts, who said the officer was never in harm's way.

It's something those experts say should have been taken into account by the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team, or OISIT.

"They are a multi-jurisdictional unit, and it does take the involved agency out of the investigation," Sheila Albers said. "But beyond that, they have not lived up to what they said they are. They are not impartial, they are not thorough, they are not unbiased."

Specifically, Sheila Albers believes more transparency about OISIT could have led to more accountability, and a more thorough investigation in her son's case.

"I think there are three things we can specifically do pretty quickly if we wanted to transform OISIT into what it should be," she said.

First, she'd like to see Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe put a manual of what OISIT's policies are and who's part of that on his website.

Second, she'd like to see all local police agencies put links to that on their department websites.

Third, she'd like to see the district attorney include forensic information in detailed explanations of why a shooting was found to be justified or unjustified.

Sheila said none of that is online. So, the KSHB 41 I-Team took a look.

First, if you do an online search for OISIT in Johnson County, the closest thing that comes up is an explainer on the Lenexa Police Department's website.

And, when you go to the district attorney's website, you can't easily find that information there either.

However, Sheila Albers pointed us to another location that has adopted the very policies she's pushing for.

On the website for the Larimer County, Colorado, District Attorney, you can find a tab linking you to what they call the Critical Incident Response Team, the equivalent to Johnson County's OISIT.

When you click on that, they explain who they are, how they work and the decisions they've made.

In one of those police involved shootings, you can see their DA issued a lengthy explainer, along with photos from the scene to explain his decision.

Comparing that to this example from a press release the Johnson County District Attorney posted online, you can see it's also several pages, but does not include some of the crime scene evidence Larimer County included.

"In John’s case the investigation was completed in six days. There is no logistical way that a thorough investigation of a shooting death can be done in six days," Sheila Albers said.

It's something that echoes what experts shared with The Washington Post.

"I think if these things had been in place when John was killed, the investigation would have been more thorough, it would have been more detailed, it would’ve been more accurate," Sheila Albers said. "And quite honestly, I think the outcome regarding Jenison would’ve been different."

Late Thursday afternoon, Howe responded via email and said while he's unable to comment right now, he hopes to provide additional information in the future.

An FBI Investigation is still underway into the handling of the Albers shooting and a $70,000 severance pay Jenison was given to retire.

That investigation has been ongoing for the past two years.

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