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New document contradicts previous public statements in Overland Park teen's fatal shooting

John Albers
John Albers soccer.jpg
Posted at 8:13 PM, Apr 01, 2021

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — New information has been revealed about the controversial fatal shooting of an Overland Park teen by a police officer in 2018.

While responding to a welfare check involving 17-year-old John Albers, Officer Clayton Jenison fired 13 shots into a vehicle Albers was backing out of the garage at the family's house.

41 Action News filed a lawsuit in January against the city of Overland Park, through its parent company, Scripps Media, seeking a copy of the Johnson County Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Team, or OISIT, report about the deadly shooting.

While there has been no ruling yet in the case, a newly released city response to the lawsuit contradicts previous public statements about the case.

Video captured of the incident shows Jenison pull his service weapon out of his holster before the garage door is fully open and Albers, who was a junior at Blue Valley Northwest High School, begins backing up the family minivan.

The city's response to the lawsuit acknowledges that Jenison never identified himself to Albers as a police officer nor did Jenison instruct him to stop the vehicle before opening fire.

"Yet remarkably, Frank Donchez, the chief of police, said that Jenison followed policy," Bernie Rhodes, an attorney for Latrhop GPM representing 41 Action News in the lawsuit, said. "That kind of statement makes Barney Fife look like Albert Einstein."

Albers' mother, Sheila Albers, called previous assertions that Jenison followed protocol "false and disgusting" in light of the new revelation.

"Any other scenario, the officer would have been fired and his license would have been revoked," she said, "and that did not happen

Sheila Albers continued, "We know Jenison broke policy, because he never attempted to go to the front door or engage with anyone in my home. ... He didn't identify himself as a police officer and then, the most egregious of those policies that he broke, he used excessive force. ... Jenison broke policy and any discussion that he was following policy is just false and disgusting."

One month after Jenison killed John Albers, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced that Jenison wouldn't be charged with a crime. He claimed in a "fact sheet" regarding the case that Jenison was directly behind the vehicle and feared he would be run over.

"Based on the evidence that we have available, that was a reasonable belief," Howe said in February 2018.

However, in the city's lawsuit response, Overland Park now admits that all 13 shots Jenison fired went through the passenger side of the vehicle. The back windshield was intact after the incident, further indication that Jenison's gunfire didn't come from directly behind the vehicle.

"The city admits that many of the statements that Steve Howe gave in the press conference in which he exonerated Jenison are just flat out falsehoods," Rhodes said.

Rhodes also noted that the city's lawsuit response confirms there is recorded audio of Jenison during the incident, which had not been previously revealed or publicly released.

"The fact that there is audio of Jenison the night he killed my son and the public has not heard it is shameful," Sheila Albers said.

City leaders claim in their lawsuit response that they don't know if there's enough public interest in the case to justify the release of the OISIT report.

However, Rhodes points out the city has received 15,000 emails from the community that contain the names of either John or Sheila Albers.

"How deep can you stick your head in the sand to say you've got 15,000 emails but you don't know if its in the public interest?" Rhodes said. "Ostriches around the world are shaking their head at this."

Overland Park also claims, because there's an open federal civil rights investigation into the case, the OISIT Report shouldn't be released.

"That's just another excuse for the city to hide documentation from the public," Shelia Albers said. "It points to the national problem we have with false narratives and that ultimately police are in control of the information, so they have the ability to put out false narratives."

The next step in the lawsuit is a status conference, which is scheduled for next Tuesday.

"Just think of the absurdity of the city's argument," Rhodes said. "You can't investigate me because I'm being investigated by the FBI."