OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City police officer who shot and killed a 17-year-old four years ago will not face civil rights charges, federal prosecutors announced Friday.
John Albers was shot by officer Clayton Jenison after he backed a minivan out of his family’s garage in Overland Park, Kansas, in January 2018. Officers went to the home to check reports that Albers was posting threats to harm himself on social media.
Albers’ parents were not home at the time.
The Justice Department said its two-year investigation into the shooting found no evidence to contradict an earlier finding in a civil court that Jenison used unreasonable force in shooting Albers.
However, federal law requires that investigators prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer “willfully” used unreasonable force, federal prosecutors said.
Evidence gathered during the the investigation “does not clear the high bar that the Supreme Court has set for meeting this standard, and the department has therefore closed its investigation into this matter,” federal prosecutors said in a news release.
Jenison shot twice at Albers as he backed the minivan past him and out of the driveway, investigators said. When the van spun around so it was facing the street and began slowly backing toward the house, Jenison fired 11 more shots. Albers was hit by six bullets and died at the scene.
Jenison has said he fired at the teenager because he believed he was going to be hit by the van.
The Johnson County District Attorney had previously ruled that the shooting was justified because Jenison feared for his life. Jenison later received a $70,000 payment as part of a severance package when he agreed to resign.
Albers’ family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the city for $2.3 million.
Justice Department officials, who met with the Albers family to discuss their findings, said the decision “does not alter the fact that his loss was an unnecessary tragedy and should not be read as anything more than a determination that the department cannot prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, every element of the federal criminal statute, to include willfulness.”