Overland Park mayor defends city’s response to police shooting death of teen

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Mayor Carl Gerlach on Friday defended the city’s actions responding to the shooting death of 17-year-old John Albers by a former city police officer.

Gerlach said his goal is for the city to listen, learn and respond to the tragic death of the teen. He said the city has hired three mental health co-responders following Albers’ death to assist police responding to calls. The city is making sure all police officers receive crisis intervention training.

Three separate reviews concluded that the police shooting did not violate policies, procedures or have enough evidence to bring charges against Jenison. The mayor said that’s a big part of why the city did not fire Jenison. Instead, they agreed to pay him a severance package worth more than $70,000 to leave Overland Park.

“We really didn’t have a way to fire him,” Gerlach said. “If we would have fired him, we would not have had cause, and if we did not have cause, he could sue us. He could also go back before our civil service board and be reinstated. That’s the one thing we didn’t want to happen.”

Police policy for shooting at a moving vehicle has changed twice since Albers’ death to match a national standard. Officers can no longer justify shooting at a moving vehicle if the only deadly threat they face is the vehicle itself.

Sheila Albers, the victim’s mother, claimed that Jenison was not in the path of her minivan as it backed out of a driveway slowly, at an estimated speed of two miles an hour. She also said Jenison did, in fact, step out of the way before opening fire.

Albers told FOX4 that the national standard restricting shooting at moving vehicles was in place in 2016, two years before her son’s death.

Overland Park police just changed its policy to match that national standard last month.

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