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Soccer coach remembers, mourns Overland Park 17-year-old killed in police shooting

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Bryan Turner, like many of other members of the Overland Park community, is still trying to process what happened Saturday night.

John Albers was killed outside his home after he allegedly drove toward police who then fatally shot him.

Turner, the 17-year-old's former soccer coach, called the whole situation "troubling."

“He just was a happy person," Turner said. "So when I heard the news, it really hurt me because you always look back and think, 'Is there more I could have done or said?'”

Turner coached Albers for a few years when he played for the Kansas City Soccer Club. He said Albers was full of energy and always very respectful. He's not sure what went wrong.

“It took until the next morning for me to kind of really wrap my head around what happened,” Turner said.

The 17-year-old junior at Blue Valley Northwest was shot by an officer who was responding to a report of a male threatening to take his own life near 149th Terrace.

According to 911 dispatch audio, Albers was chatting with a friend on Facetime, saying he'd been taking pills and drinking. He said he was done with life and threatened to hurt himself.

Listen to more of the dispatch audio in the video player below.

Dispatch audio indicates one of the officers heading to Albers' home was familiar with the teen. It's unclear how, but Albers did have two charges from 2016 that were later dismissed.

“No one, especially kids, should have the thought process that dying is the best option,” Turner said.

When police went to check on Albers and approached the home, they said the garage door opened and the driver sped toward one of the officers. The officer shot and killed Albers.

Turner admitted he doesn't know the full story, but is concerned police would shoot someone having suicidal thoughts.

“I just found a lot of the story behind the incident kind of confusing and rather troubling, just in the wake of society now with incidents of police brutality,” Turner said.

Overland Park Police declined to comment on the incident because the officer-involved shooting is under investigation. However, Tim DeWeese, director of the Johnson County Mental Health Center, said police were without one of their key allies that night.

DeWeese said typically when officers are called to a scene involving a person with suicidal tendencies, licensed mental health professionals are also sent to the scene once it's secure.

"Unfortunately, that is a day that our co-responder doesn't work, so the police were on their own," DeWeese said.

Johnson County has six co-responders who cover 10 municipalities and six police departments across the county.

DeWeese said the county is in the process of hiring another co-responder who will work in Overland Park. He said that was in the works well before this weekend's shooting.

Turner said he's always told his players the line of communication is open, and he's always there for them beyond the soccer world.

“Definitely now, you know, letting them know that there's nothing too serious or too embarrassing or too whatever it is you think to talk about,” Turner said. “You can do bad things, but it doesn't make you a bad person. And I believe we can all learn from this to be more aware of people who we think could be going through something because you just never know what internal battles people are going through.”

Albers' wake and funeral are schedule for Friday.

If you are thinking of hurting or killing yourself or know someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741. Locally, the Johnson County Mental Health Center’s crisis line is available 24/7 at 913-268-0156.

To get involved in suicide prevention, you can join the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition. For more resources, visit the coalition's website here.

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