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Overland Park releases nearly 500-page shooting report in death of John Albers

John Albers
Posted at 4:13 PM, Apr 29, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Overland Park released a nearly 500-page report Thursday regarding the investigation into the 2018 shooting death of John Albers by former police officer Clayton Jenison.

Earlier this week, the city announced it no longer planned to fight release of the report, which had been sought for more than three years — a fight which included a lawsuit filed earlier this year by 41 Action News.

City officials said earlier this week that portions of the report would be redacted to protect juveniles, witnesses and confidential investigation techniques.

READ | Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Team Report (Caution: Report contains graphic details)

The city allowed Albers' family to view the report prior to its release, which ended a chapter in a lengthy fight the family has waged for transparency.

John Albers' parents, Steve and Shelia Albers, released a statement after the report was released, which was highly critical of its contents.

This report was supposed to be an investigation of the shooting incident as it pertained to the scene, including a scene diagram with measurements. It's very clear that John was never investigated as a victim. This “investigation” contains little information about the officer that fired his weapon 13 times or his performance as a police officer. We are extremely grateful that the FBI and the Department of Justice are reviewing this case.

John may not have been perfect, but he was deeply loved. He deserved an investigation that was competent, unbiased and backed by evidence. This was not an investigation, it was victim blaming. The fact that [Johnson County] District Attorney Steve Howe and [Overland Park Police] Chief Frank Donchez found this report to be sufficient is alarming. Howe, Donchez and investigations like this are what is wrong with policing in Johnson County.
Sheila and Steve Albers, parents of 17-year-old shooting victim John Albers

Sheila Albers continued her calls for the termination Donchez, which she discussed Monday during a news conference with other community members.

Attorney Bernie Rhodes, who represents 41 Action News in its lawsuit regarding the report's release, said there appears to be a lot of information missing.

"Where's the reconstruction showing where these shots were fired? It's not there," Rhodes said. "Either Overland Park is hiding it or it wasn't done or the whole thing is a whitewash. Clearly, this investigation is not a report; it's a joke."

Rhodes, in particular, pointed to a single sketch in the report portraying the shooting scene.

"The only drawing that's produced in 500 pages is one that my 4-year-old grandson could do a better job of," he said. "If this is truly the extent of the OISIT Investigation, then everyone on that team should be ashamed. It does nothing to exonerate Jenison."

Several videos and pictures are part of the public release in addition to the nearly 500 pages of documents.

The videos include Jenison's interview with investigators, which represents the first time his comments about the incident have been aired publicly more than three years after John Albers was shot to death as he backed his car out of the family's garage.

Jenison spoke with investigators on Jan. 24, 2018, four days after the deadly encounter. He was responding to the residence to check the welfare of John Albers, who posted on social media after allegedly harming himself.

As he heard the garage door start to open, Jenison said, "I unholstered my service weapon. I approached the garage door. The vehicle started backing out. I told him to stop; he didn't listen to my commands. I shot. The vehicle accelerated rapidly past me. Before that, I was practically running backwards, goes past me in reverse, does a U-turn and comes back towards me and I fired again. Where I was, I believed he was going to hit me."

Jenison told investigators he was within five feet of the minivan when he opened fire, even though he said he didn't know who was inside at first. He also explained why he was the only officer at the scene to approach the vehicle.

"Trying to contain that situation, not let him leave, so we could help him," Jenison said. "That's why I got in back of the car."

The teen’s family has already settled a multi-million-dollar civil lawsuit regarding John Albers’ death.

A judge in that case ruled Jenison was not in the direct path of the vehicle. The judge also ruled, after an expert reconstructed the scene, the boy was backing out of the garage at roughly 2-and-a-half mph.

"It felt like it was going fast enough to be a threat to cause bodily harm to me," Jenison told investigators.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe used the OISIT report, along with other factors, in deciding not to file charges against Jenison.

Nonetheless, city officials determined it was in the best interest of the community that Jenison no longer serve as a police officer, reaching a $70,000 severance agreement not long after John Albers' death.

The city acknowledged earlier this month it had been subpoenaed by Department of Justice investigators as part of a federal grand jury inquiry into whether John Albers' civil rights were violated in the incident.

The grand jury requested a lengthy list of documents be turned over to the FBI. Even in the absence of local criminal charges, Rhodes said Jenison could face federal charges connected to the shooting.

"The lack of any real apparent investigation in what occurred that night clearly leaves the possibility open that the FBI and the Department of Justice civil rights folks will do a real investigation with real measurements, with real reconstruction, with real diagrams and from that they may very well conclude that Officer Jenison was unjustified in what he did," Rhodes said.

Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach said Monday the city's decision to release the OISIT Report is the right call to stop what he called "misinformation" from being released to the public.

Gerlach also said the decision to release the OISIT Report was strictly left up to Donchez.