The mother of the Blue Valley Northwest student fatally shot by police in January is suing the Overland Park Police Department and the officer who killed her son.
In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, Sheila Albers alleges that the officer, identified as Clayton Jenison, acted "recklessly and deliberately" when he shot and killed her 17-year-old son, John Albers, as he was backing out of the garage of their home.
Officers were on the scene after a 911 caller reported Albers had ingested pills and alcohol and was threatening to stab himself, although the lawsuit says the autopsy revealed Albers "was not intoxicated with drugs or toxins."
As the officers approached the house on foot, the garage door opened. Dash-cam footage shows the van backing out toward one of the officers, who yelled, "Stop the car," before firing twice, according to the lawsuit. The van then stopped and the officer, identified as Jenison, lowered his weapon before raising it again as the van reversed in a rapid "J" turn toward the officer. He fired 11 more times.
The lawsuit alleges Albers was "simply backing his mom's minivan" out of the garage at a rate of 2.5 miles per hour. It says the officers did not attempt to make contact with him, or identify themselves as members of law enforcement, and that Jenison had no reason to think it was necessary to use deadly force.
"A teenage driver operating a moving vehicle that has actually been shot, or simply being shot at multiple times, would likely lose control of the vehicle," the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, from the time of their arrival until Albers was killed, none of the police officers on the scene had received crisis intervention training. CIT is designed to teach de-escalation tactics when police are dealing with people with mental illness — which the lawsuit says the officers knew Albers had struggled with.
In February, Johnson County authorities concluded the shooting was justified and cleared Jenison of criminal charges. At the time, Overland Park police said Jenison had resigned from the department for personal reasons.
Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.