OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -- KCTV5 News has confirmed a federal investigation is underway into the shooting and subsequent death of John Albers.
Albers was the 17-year-old shot and killed by an Overland Park police officer in January of 2018. Police responded to the Albers’ family home because Albers was reportedly threatening suicide. Police say the teen backed out of the garage quickly, toward the officers. An officer, identified in court records at Clayton Jenison, fired 13 shots at the minivan backing out of the garage. A month after that fatal shooting, it was announce no charges would be filed against the officers involved in John’s death.
Earlier this year, the teen's family learned there was a deal allowing the officer to leave with a $70,000 severance package and keep his peace officer’s license. This was a deal worked out by the city manager, and Mayor Carl Gerlach is trying to frame this as competent city business, believing it was better to lock down this deal than face even more litigation.
Last month, the mayor called a news conference to release a timeline of events, and some legal documents which were already available. The mayor defended the severance package as a business decision and said the information was not released because it is an employment record. But the deal with the officer also includes a non-disclosure agreement. But the Albers’ family calls it evidence of a coverup.
The family has asked repeatedly for the investigative reports from that night which cleared the officer. But the city has refused and, legally, the city doesn’t have to. Last month, KCTV5 had filed an open records request for emails related to the case and was given an estimated cost of at least $34,000 and would take more than two and a half years.
In a statement released today, the FBI says the case deserves another look:
"The Kansas City Field FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights division, and the US Attorney’s office for the District of Kansas have opened a civil rights investigation into the fatal shooting of an Overland Park teen, John Albers, that occurred in January of 2018. The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner. As this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time."
When we contacted the city about the federal investigation, Meg Ralph, the Digital Communications Supervisor for the City Manager said in a statement: “The City will fully cooperate with all investigations into the 2018 shooting of John Albers, just as we cooperated with the investigations conducted by the Johnson County District Attorney's office and the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers' Standards.”
The Johnson County District Attorney's Office said, "This office does not have a comment at this time."
The Albers family is working to change that law so information in officer involved shootings must be made public. In the meantime, she may learn more about that night, with the federal investigation.