Johnson County, KS — Wednesday marked the third anniversary of Sheila and Steve Albers’ son’s death. Their 17-year-old son was gunned down by police while unarmed. As is normally the case when police kill unarmed and often innocent people, no charges were filed against Overland Park Officer Clayton Jenison who shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old boy on January 20, 2018. On top of refusing to charge the officer, police have also repeatedly refused to release records concerning the case, despite claiming they would do so three years ago.
On Tuesday, the day before the anniversary of Albers’ death, KSHB, filed a lawsuit to obtain the Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Team’s file into the shooting, which the station claims is a public document under the Kansas Open Records Act. This lawsuit comes after repeated requests by the station as well as another lawsuit by the Kansas City Star seeking the same records.
As the Star reports,
According to KSHB’s lawsuit, the Johnson County police shooting investigation team was formed in 2005 and has investigated more than 25 incidents. None have resulted in an officer being charged.
On Feb. 6, 2020, the TV station requested the team’s file on the Albers shooting under the open records act. The city denied the request, claiming it was a criminal investigation record and therefore exempt. The Star’s request for the file was also denied.
The file should be disclosed, the KSHB lawsuit said, because doing so would not interfere with an investigation, would not endanger anyone and would not reveal investigative procedures. Its release is also in the public’s interest, the lawsuit said.
“Release of this file will either show Jenison’s use of force was reasonable (thereby restoring the public’s faith in its local government), or show it was not (thereby validating the belief by many that the City is engaged in a cover-up),” the 61-page suit read.
But police and the city seemed unconcerned with transparency. This, in spite of the fact that after Albers’ death, Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach said the team was conducting a criminal investigation and its findings would be turned over to the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office for review and eventually to the public.
“These findings will be made public at the appropriate time,” the mayor said in a statement posted on social media. But that never happened.
KSHB’s lawsuit also disputes District Attorney Steve Howe reasoning for declining to file charges against Jenison as well.
The lawsuit said many of Howe’s statements on the decision “appear to lack any factual support,” including the claim that Jenison was standing directly behind the vehicle and that Albers drove “in an aggressive manner.” The direction of the bullets suggest that Jenison was to the side of the minivan and a reconstruction of the events found Albers was backing out of the garage at 2.5 mph, the lawsuit said.
As we reported at the time, police were called to the home of teenager John Albers after his girlfriend said she was afraid he was going to kill himself. Police arrived and Jenison opened fire on Albers as the teen backed out of his driveway.
When pressed for a statement after issuing the bonus, the city of Overland Park stood by their decision and claimed giving a child-killing cop a bonus was in the best interest of the city.
“In the best interest of the community, city officials negotiated an agreement with former Overland Park Police Officer Clayton Jenison, which resulted in his voluntary resignation and the city providing a final compensation package that included a severance payment as well as other benefits.”
As we reported at the time, the shooting was caught on police dash cam and one angle seems to show the teen start to back the family’s minivan out of the driveway before being confronted by the police officer. Jenison fired an initial two shots. After the first two shots were fired, Albers may have been wounded and it caused him to push the gas.
The vehicle then spun out in donut-like fashion, nearly hitting the officer. Fully engaged in the conflict the officer then opened fire with 11 more bullets further wounding and eventually killing the reportedly distraught teen.
Once again, another American family was then faced with the sad reality an officer of the peace ended their son’s life in the family’s own front yard.
Following the shooting, the Johnson County Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team (OISIT) conducted the post-shooting investigation. As TFTP has reported, in other states when there’s an officer-involved shooting, the police department from which the officer was employed cannot take the lead. Predictably, OISIT, after investigating its own county’s police department, found no wrongdoing on the part of Jenison.
John Albers was a Junior at Blue Valley Northwest High School. He was a member of the Wrestling and Soccer teams and was involved with at-risk youth in a Kansas City based soccer league. Friends of Albers say he was unfairly portrayed in a negative light but was, in fact, “loyal”, “courageous”, and “compassionate.”
The following is dashcam footage from the actual shooting. One can clearly see the officer open fire on Albers before he started driving erratically. Those two shots were likely unnecessary and would have made any motorist attempt to flee or cause them to lose control.
Hopefully, the federal investigation into this shooting gets more scrutiny than the one that gave the cop a bonus for it.