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Overland Park mayor: City right to buy out officer who shot teen in 2018

Posted at 1:47 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 21:26:48-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach said Friday that while the city did not have cause to fire an officer who shot and killed a 17-year-old boy in 2018, "everybody agreed" that the officer could not continue to serve on the force.

The city of Overland Park released a 500-page timeline on Friday relating to the death of John Albers, who was shot and killed by police as he backed out of the driveway at his home on Jan. 20, 2018.

The 41 Action News Investigative Team first reported in June that the city paid the officer who fatally shot Albers, Clayton Jenison, $70,000 in exchange for his resignation from the police department.

Gerlach said Friday that he supported the decision of City Manager Bill Ebel, who was not at the news conference, to pay the officer the severance. He said firing Jenison would have resulted in a “long legal battle” and the officer’s possible reinstatement through an appeal to the Civil Service Commission.

One month after the deadly shooting, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe found Jenison justified in opening fire against Albers and declined to file charges in the case. The police chief later said the officer had resigned, citing personal reasons.

“(The district attorney and police chief) didn’t say he didn’t do anything wrong. They said there wasn’t enough to charge him with,” Gerlach said at the news conference. “Since they couldn’t charge him, we had to make a decision … The city manager made the decision … and I think everybody agreed, we didn’t want him as a police officer anymore.”

The mayor did not provide many additional details or insights into the city’s decision on Friday. He would not respond to a question about whether he felt Albers’ shooting was justified.

The Albers family settled a civil lawsuit against the city for $2.3 million in 2019.

The news conference came after a contentious Overland Park City Council meeting on Monday night, where citizens and protesters were denied the opportunity to speak on the subject. At one point during the meeting, Gerlach asked if he had the authority to clear the entire room.

Just before the meeting on Monday, council members were given a copy of the timeline packet but had no opportunity to review it before the executive session to discuss it.

41 Action News has received a copy of the timeline and is in the process of reviewing it.