OVERLAND PARK (KCTV) – Overland Park’s mayor is trying to explain a quiet deal with a police officer who shot and killed a suicidal teenager.
John Albers died in January of 2018. His family recently learned there was a deal to allow this 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.
It was another quietly made deal, however, and the family of Albers didn’t know about it. During the news conference, Mayor Gerlach said the information was not released because it is an employment record. But the deal with the officer also includes a non-disclosure agreement.
The police officer in the incident, identified in court records as Clayton Jenison, fired 13 shots into the car killing Albers.
A lot has changed in overland park since that death. Police now have crisis training, and if officers show up where there is a mental health concern, there will be a crisis response team. Shooting at moving vehicles is also no longer the policy of the department.
Even with these changes, Gerlach tried to defend the deal which took quietly took place during the Friday news conference.
“They didn’t say he didn’t do anything wrong, they said there wasn’t enough to charge him with,” he told reporters, “and since they couldn’t charge him, we had to make a decision - do we fire him, like I mentioned before, and go through long legal battle and have our civil service board actually put him back on, or should we negotiate and make sure he’s out of this community and not an officer in our city anymore.”
The family of Albers is very critical of this deal and feels there has been a huge lack of transparency by police, prosecutors and elected leaders. The family settled a civil lawsuit with the city but they want laws to change
Final investigative reports concerning that shooting are still sealed. The family of Albers says police departments and city leaders can and should do better, adding that they feel there should be greater transparency about their son’s death and that they still don’t have it.