On January 20, 2018, John Albers was tragically shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting with an Overland Park Police Department officer. This incident was investigated by the Johnson County Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team. This Team consists of law enforcement officers out of other jurisdictions in Johnson County. Other than complete cooperation with the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team investigation, the Overland Park Police Department is not involved. The purpose of this investigation is to assist the Johnson County District Attorney in making a prompt, informed decision about whether the use of force was lawful and whether any crime was committed. The Overland Park Police Department receives a copy of the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team report when it is complete.
Over the last three years, the Overland Park Police Department has received numerous requests for the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team report. The Overland Park Police Department has consistently denied those requests. That denial has been based in part on the fact that the record, like all criminal investigation records, contains sensitive personal information. In addition, the release of criminal investigation records can have a serious negative impact on future investigations. This impact includes the fact that potential witnesses may be discouraged from providing information out of concern of being exposed to the public, revenge by the parties involved, or other negative outcomes due to their cooperation with the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team.
For the three years since the incident, the Albers family and others have continuously called for transparency to include the release of the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team report. The passage of time has not caused the attention on this report to wane. In fact, the City is currently being sued for the release of the information. As a result of this ongoing discussion, misinformation has been circulated resulting in a serious erosion of public trust over this period of time. Due to the unique circumstances presented in this case to include the challenge of the public confidence in City officials and law enforcement related to this matter, and in light of the current litigation, the City has decided to release the report that is in our possession. Continuing to withhold the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team report has become an obstacle to restoring the community’s trust and confidence in the City of Overland Park, its officials, and the Overland Park Police Department.
This decision was not arrived at lightly. Kansas law provides the City with discretion to deny release of criminal investigation records such as the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team report, and lists several types of information (such as the names of certain juveniles) that justify non-disclosure of those records. In accordance with Kansas statutes, the City has spent several weeks redacting certain information within the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team report including the names of witnesses, juveniles, and victims of crimes; confidential investigative techniques; and personally identifiable information (e.g. home addresses, social security numbers, cell phone numbers). In addition, the City has excluded autopsy and certain death scene photos, and John Albers’ subpoenaed medical records. The City made only parenthetical footnotes and graphic content warning additions to the report.
In determining what information to redact, a great deal of thought went into balancing the rights and privacy of those interviewed, including disclosure of confidential and personal information that is obtained through interviews and search warrants, with sufficient transparency to restore the public’s trust. Consideration was also given to the need to ensure that potential witnesses will not be discouraged from providing information for future investigations for the reasons cited above.
Because the Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team report is prepared for the district attorney, we have consulted with him to ensure that he does not oppose the release of this Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team report. Further, we contacted the FBI about releasing the report to assure it will not hinder or interfere with that agency’s current review of the incident.
Out of respect for the family, Steve and Sheila Albers, John Albers’ parents, were provided the opportunity to view the report prior to the public release.
The redacted report is available at the links below.
The OISIT report reflects a complete and thorough investigation and contains specific details about suicidal ideation. Those viewing the report should use discretion as such information can be triggering to those with mental health or substance abuse issues. The public discussion about suicide can influence behavior negatively by contributing to contagion or positively by encouraging help-seeking.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health issue, help is available through the Johnson County Mental Health Center (913-268-0156, 24 hours a day) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255, 24 hours a day.)