Video, interviews reveal Overland Park officers’ perspectives in John Albers shooting

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Three years after an Overland Park police officer shot and killed 17-year-old John Albers as he backed out of his garage, the city has released a report from the Johnson County Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team on the shooting.

The report is 498 pages long, including at least 91 pages that are completely redacted.

But it also provides the perspective of four Overland Park police officers directly involved in the shooting.

Thursday was the first time we’ve heard their accounts of what happened on Jan. 20, 2018 — the night Albers died.

OFFICER RYAN NEWLON

Overland Park Police Officer Ryan Newlon was the first officer to arrive at the home of Steve and Sheila Albers that night.

The police department released 90 minutes of video that his patrol recorded the night of the shooting. The full video can be watched in the video player below.

During an interview with investigators the next day, Newlon said he was called to the house because of an attempted suicide.

Newlon said received information about John Albers threatening to harm himself and that the threat happened while John was live on social media.

Newlon acknowledged that he knew this wasn’t the first time police had been called to the Albers’ home or had contact with John, but said that he personally hadn’t had contact with the teenager before.

That contact included dozens of calls and reports. John had also been arrested three times. About 5 hours before the shooting, Albers was working at Scheel’s. He removed tags from clothing and said he was intending to steal the items. Police were called and John was released into his father’s custody.

Newlon doesn’t go into how much of John’s background he knew as he arrived at the Albers’ home.

Because of the type of call, Newlon said he waited in his car for a second officer to arrive. That officer turned out to be Clayton Jenison.

Newlon explained to investigators that he went around one side of the house while Jenison walked the other way. They met at the front of the Albers house where they decided to try to call John instead of knocking on the door.

Newlon said he ran back to his patrol car to get his department-issued cell phone. On the way, he noticed a silver Jeep parked nearby. Newlon said he approached the woman in the Jeep in hopes of getting a phone number to reach John.

The officer said that’s when he turned around and noticed the garage door of the Albers’ home opening. As he made his way back to Jenison, he told investigators that he heard Jenison giving John orders to stop.

Newlon said he witnessed the van accelerate quickly and noticed that it was heading toward Jenison.

Newlon reported hearing three gunshots.

He said he pulled his gun and approached the van. Newlon said he saw the van swing around, and as another officer arrived, also noticed the van backing toward Jenison. Newlon said there where three more shots, and the van stopped across the street.

Newlon described Jenison as visibly upset and breathing heavy after the shooting. He said he remembered the other officer telling him, “I thought he was going to run me over,” and repeated the statement several times.

Newlon later explained to investigators that he thought the van was accelerating toward Jenison because it was moving so quickly. He said he normally backs out of the garage slowly, and that the van started that way, but sped up.

Jenison was almost directly behind the van as it started to back toward him, according to Newlon.

SGT. JASON GODDARD

Overland Park police released an 80-minute video from another officer’s car, too, which you can see in the video player below. Sgt. Jason Goddard arrived as John Albers was backing out of the garage.

When investigators interviewed Goddard, he said he knew that John was threatening to harm himself before he arrived at the Albers’ home.

Goddard told investigators that he loaded and was ready to use his shotgun, that is less lethal than the guns that Jenison and Newlon had.

When Goddard turned on the street where the Albers live, he said he saw Jenison behind a minivan and the van was backing up.

Goddard told investigators that as he arrived, he didn’t know whether Jenison had already fired at the van.

He continued to tell investigators that the van accelerated and made a “J-turn,” and continued backing toward Jenison. That’s when he witnessed Jenison fire his gun.

Goddard said he saw a bullet hit John and the teenager went limp behind the wheel of the van. He and another officer ran toward the van to check on John, but said it was clear nothing could be done to help him.

OFFICER ADAM VENDETTI

Overland Park Police Officer Adam Vendetti also responded to the home of Steve and Shelia Albers that day.

Vendetti is a crisis intervention officer. He said he heard Jenison and Newlon get dispatched to the Albers’ home because a teenager was trying to harm himself, so he drove over to help.

In an interview following the shooting, Vendetti told investigators that he looked at the call notes and realized he’d been called to the Albers’ home before.

Vendetti told investigators that he’d responded to an assault call about a month before where John Albers had been drunk. Other documents from the investigation showed the teenager’s blood alcohol level was more that twice the legal limit.

As he drove to the scene, Vendetti told investigators that he got on the radio and told other officers about his previous interactions with Albers. He said the teenager said he was a wrestler and that Albers told him that he’d fight officers.

When he arrived at the home, Vendetti described that Jenison was in a “shooting stance.” He also told investigators that the garage door was open.

At that point, Vendetti said he had no idea where Albers was, but knew from dispatchers that the teenager was likely armed and threatening to harm himself.

Vendetti reported seeing a sliver minivan backing out of the garage toward Jenison, but couldn’t determine if the was heading toward the officer from his patrol car.

He told investigators that he heard gunshots seconds after the van started backing out of the garage. Vendetti had to jump out of the way of the van as it turned slightly, but he knew Albers was still in control of the van because it shifted into drive.

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As soon as the van stopped, Vendetti joined Goddard to check on Albers.

According to the interview report, Vendetti became emotional as he described Albers slumped over the driver’s seat. He checked for a pulse and couldn’t find one.

He also described Jenison’s face right after the shooting and said that he was “all f***ed up.”

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If you are thinking of hurting or killing yourself, please call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Find more important resources and related stories here.

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