The mother of John Albers, the teenager who was fatally shot by an Overland Park police officer in 2018, said the investigation should be reopened after another batch of evidence was recently located.
In April, the City of Overland Park released the contents of the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team’s file in an effort to provide transparency, billing it as a “complete and thorough investigation.”
But the report did not include a ballistics analysis which was later obtained by The Star.
The report also did not contain hundreds of still images from previously released dash camera videos. In June, those photos were made public with the city saying they had been found in an unlabeled folder.
The latest batch of evidence includes about 2,000 additional still images from previously released dash cam recordings and a sealed envelope that may contain media files, which was discovered in the police department’s property room.
The teen’s mother, Sheila Albers, said a lack of thoroughness in the investigation is a “black eye on leadership in Overland Park.” She called the handling of the case “sloppy” and “slipshod.”
“It is disgusting that there has been a box of evidence sitting in the Overland Park property room for three-and-a-half years,” Albers said. “It makes absolute mockery of any investigation that has occurred related to my son’s death. It is clear as day that the investigation needs to be reopened and done with thoroughness, detail and impartiality because that has not occurred.”
City of Overland Park spokesman Sean Reilly said the still images were not handed over to the city by the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team as part of its report and therefore not included in the April release of the report.
The photos show frames from Officer Adam Vendetti’s dash cam and 360-degree shots from Sgt. Jason Goddard’s dash cam. Sheila Albers said she obtained the files last week through a request with the crime lab.
The envelope was located Monday, Albers said, after the city was asked by a news outlet about media files that appeared on a property receipt from the investigation.
“Upon inspection of the property room, it was confirmed there is a sealed evidentiary envelope that has labels suggesting it may contain such media files,” Reilly said in a statement to The Star. “Unsealing the evidence envelope may compromise the integrity of the evidence and/or create an appearance that the City is tampering with the evidence. It would be highly inappropriate, especially with an ongoing federal investigation, for the City to unilaterally unseal and inspect these evidentiary items.”
Former Overland Park police officer Clayton Jension shot 17-year-old Albers in January 2018, after police were called to the family’s home on a welfare check for the teenager, who was believed to be suicidal.
Jenison fired 13 shots, striking Albers six times as the teen backed out of the driveway.
One month later, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe ruled the shooting justified. Johnson County’s Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team investigated the incident.
In the three-and-a-half years since, public records requests, including some that turned into court battles, have led to information slowly trickling out.
The Star sued Overland Park, seeking the severance agreement offered to Jension. That agreement allowed Jenison to quietly resign and collect $70,000. He left in March 2018.
Earlier this year, Channel 41 sued the city for the full investigative case file, which was released in April.
Experts who reviewed the file at The Star’s request said it appeared detectives never considered that the shooting might not be justified. Those experts also criticized the report for focusing on Albers instead of Jenison.
In an exchange on social media on Wednesday, Overland Park Councilman Curt Skoog said John’s death was a tragic event, but the investigation had been independent.
Steve Albers, John’s father, replied saying that was “laughable at best.”
Skoog is running for mayor. He faces Councilman Faris Farassati, Mike Czinege, a retired AMC Theaters executive and attorney Clay Norkey in the Aug. 3 primary.