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Mother of John Albers calls deadly shooting report on her son 'a sham'

Sheila Albers said report is incomplete
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John Albers
John Albers soccer.jpg
Family of teen shot, killed by Overland Park Police files civil suit
Posted at 5:45 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 19:37:02-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A mother who first was able to look at a key report more than three years after a police officer fatally shot her son called that report "a sham."

Last Thursday, Sheila Albers and her husband Steve reviewed the Johnson County Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team's report into the shooting death of their 17-year-old son John.

The city released the nearly 500-page report publicly Thursday, which also includes videos and photos.

John Albers, who was a 17-year-old junior at Blue Valley Northwest at the time, had posted a video showing the teen harming himself Jan. 20, 2018, on social media, which prompted 911 calls for a welfare check.

As the first police officer arrived, John Albers was backing a family minivan out of the garage at the residence.

Overland Park Police Officer Clayton Jenison, who the city of Overland Park acknowledged in a court filing did not identify himself, pulled his service weapon as the garage was opening before unloading 13 shots into the side of the vehicle as it backed down the driveway.

Six of those shots struck and killed John Albers.

John Albers
John Albers was fatally shot by an Overland Park police officer in 2018

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe, citing the OISIT Report, declined to file criminal charges against Jenison in the case in February 2018.

"We expect law enforcement to investigate any loss of life with integrity," Sheila Albers told 41 Action News I-Team investigator Andy Alcock on Monday. "The District Attorney and the OISIT failed miserably at doing that because a police officer was involved."

Overland Park has fought against the release of the OISIT Report — a decision that led to lawsuits, including one from 41 Action News.

The Albers family has been critical of Overland Park’s transparency with respect to the circumstances of John Albers’ death.

Now, Sheila Albers points out the OISIT Report does not contain a reconstruction diagram or a trajectory report on the bullets which is standard for shooting homicides.

"This is exactly why we asked for the report was because we questioned the integrity of the report and now we know that the investigation was a sham," Shelia Albers said. "It leads me to believe there are two systems set up, there's a judicial system for civilians and there's a judicial system for police officers and that creates incredible bias and a lack of impartiality in our system."

While Albers was critical of what wasn't in the report, she was also critical of what was in it.

There was one rough sketch in the report of what appears to be the incident scene.

"Pathetic, absolutely the most pathetic thing I have ever seen. If that is representation of good policing then we as a community should be ashamed. With the technology that we have and the equipment that we have to put that in a document that is offensive to this entire community," Albers said.

After the city released a chunk of the OISIT Report, former Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison criticized the report Friday as incomplete, adding that it’s “pretty clear” Jenison didn’t handle the situation well and calling it “a bad shoot.”

"I think Paul Morrison is spot on with his comments and I'm really grateful that he stepped in to kind of give his expert opinion on the matter," Albers said.

She said the most shocking thing in the report was Jenison telling investigators in his videotaped interview he didn't know who was inside the minivan when he opened fire.

Sheila said that vehicle belonged to her and Jenison could've potentially killed her whole family without knowing it.

"That was jaw dropping for me because no police officer should be shooting into a car when they don't even know who's in the car," she said.

Albers through her non-profit group JOCO United has pushed for more transparency for police officers.

That group successfully lobbied Overland Park to give every officer Crisis Intervention Training or CIT.

CIT teaches how to handle emotionally distraught people and deescalate a situation before it becomes out of control.

The OISIT Report spent a great deal of attention to John Albers' troubled adolescence.

It also revealed Officer Adam Vendetti, who is CIT trained, arrived at the Albers home just as Jenison was opening fire.

Vendetti told OISIT investigators he knew John Albers from a previous incident.

"I had an idea how it may be best to interact with him," Vendetti told OISIT Investigators.

"I think he would've had a much more appropriate response and saw that there was no need to use lethal force of any kind," Albers said about Vendetti. "My son would probably still be here," she said.

A judge in the Albers family’s wrongful-death lawsuit over the deadly shooting found that a reasonable jury could find the officer's use of lethal force was unreasonable in signing off on a $2.3-million settlement.

Nonetheless, a month later, as the I-Team was first to report last June, the city of Overland Park paid Jenison a $70,000 buyout to resign from the police department in March 2018.

Calls for Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez to step down or be fired for his handling of John Albers’ death and the investigation continue to grow, including allegations from the teen’s family that he filed a false report by telling the Kansas regulatory body for police officers, the Commission on Peace Officers' Standards and Training or C-POST, Jenison left Overland Park Police under "ordinary" circumstances.

"They committed perjury first of all, but secondly by allowing Jenison to keep his license, they passed that problem off to another community," Sheila Albers said about Donchez and his boss Overland Park City Manager Bill Ebel.

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Shelia Albers, whose son John Albers was killed by an Overland Park officer, speaks a press conference calling for the termination of Police Chief Frank Donchez on April 26, 2021.

A federal grand jury is investigating the incident for a possible civil rights violation and theoretically could bring charges against Jenison in the case. The FBI is leading the investigation.

The I-Team asked Sheila Albers what her expectation is for that process.

"That there will be federal indictments, that someone will be charged with a crime," she said.

Albers believes Jenison could be charged with violating her son's civil rights and community leaders could be charged for obstructing justice in the investigation.

She's also hopeful the investigation will result in a federal consent decree to force changes to the OISIT process.

Currently, Johnson County law enforcement officers from outside the police agency involved in the shooting incident investigate it.

No outside experts and a Johnson County grand jury were not called to review what was found in the investigation.

The faith based social justice group MORE2 called for Chief Donchez to be fired last Thursday.

MORE2 Community Organizer Marcus Winn said the OISIT process is flawed.

"There's still a lot of lack of oversight," Winn said. "It's not a radical thing to say best practices involve civilian oversight and we've had none of that that I've seen in this instance."

41 Action News Digital Content Producer Tod Palmer contributed to this report.