Records from police shooting of Overland Park teen sought in lawsuit against city, DA

Dashcam footage of the officer-involved shooting of 17-year-old John Albers

Overland Park Police Department dashcam footage of the fatal officer-involved shooting of 17-year-old John Albers. WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT.
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Overland Park Police Department dashcam footage of the fatal officer-involved shooting of 17-year-old John Albers. WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT.

A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of an Overland Park resident who said he was denied access to several public records in connection to a police shooting that killed a teenager in 2018.

The lawsuit, filed in Johnson County District Court Wednesday, names the city of Overland Park and District Attorney Stephen Howe as defendants.

According to the suit, Mark Schmid began requesting documents last May under the Kansas Open Records Act in regard to the shooting of 17-year-old John Albers.

Schmid lives in Overland Park. He’s also part of JOCO United and a member of Albers’ extended family by marriage.

Albers was killed in January 2018 outside his family’s home in the 9300 block of West 149th Terrace as he was backing out of the garage in his family’s minivan.

Schmid’s records requests started a few months after the police shooting of Albers and after the district attorney ruled the officer was justified in firing into the moving minivan, saying he had reasonable fear his life was in danger.

The officer, Clayton Jenison, resigned after the shooting.

“The lawsuit was filed in order to give my client, and by extension the public, the opportunity to challenge or verify the reasons the government gave in deciding not to bring charges against the officer who killed John Albers and in deciding to allow the officer to resign without any otherwise negative employment consequences,” said Max Kautsch, the Lawrence-based attorney representing Schmid.

The lawsuit said some of Schmid’s requests were granted while several others were denied by the city, including records sought in regard to the police department’s internal responses to the shooting, the officer’s resignation from the department and records showing if he went through background check before he was hired, findings of the administrative investigation, a case file provided to police from the Johnson County Officer-Involved Shooting Team and dashboard camera footage from the day of the shooting.

Schmid said he also made requests to the district attorney, seeking “3DLaser scans” from the shooting scene, forensic reconstructions and video turned over to the district attorney regarding the shooting.

Citing state statutes, the lawsuit said city denied the records, deeming them to be personnel, medical or criminal investigative records.

Schmid’s lawsuit is challenging the denials for records and contends the city and district attorney had no legal basis to withhold them. It’s been filed in an effort to get the court to enter a mandatory injunction against the city, ordering it to release the documents.

In an email to The Star, Sean Reilly, city spokesman, said the city had not yet seen a copy of the lawsuit.

The district attorney’s office could not be reached immediately Wednesday night.

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Kaitlyn Schwers covers breaking news and crime at night for The Kansas City Star. Originally from Willard, Mo., she spent nearly three years reporting in Arkansas and Illinois before returning to Missouri and joining The Star in 2017.