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World FBI probes police killing of boy on family's drive

16:26  25 september  2020
16:26  25 september  2020 Source:   bbc.com

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The FBI is to investigate the fatal police shooting of a teenage boy as he reversed a vehicle out his family's garage in the US state of Kansas.

A police officer fired 13 shots, killing John Albers, 17, on 20 January 2018 in a Kansas City suburb.

Police had been called to check on the boy, who had ADHD, after his online posts prompted fears for his safety.

A month after the shooting the county prosecutor announced the officer, Clayton Jenison, would not be charged.

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The FBI's Kansas City, Missouri, field office is working with the US Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division and US attorney's office in Kansas on the inquiry.

FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said in a statement on Thursday that they would "collect all available facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner".

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Police dashcam video shows John reversing the family's van slowly out of the garage and down the driveway as officers arrive at the property in the city of Overland Park.

An officer shouts: "Stop!"

The vehicle continues to back out and Officer Jenison, standing from the side, fires two shots.

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The van reverses wildly in a sharp circle back towards the officer, before slowing almost to a stop.

The officer steps aside and fires 11 more shots.

The vehicle rolls forward and comes to a halt in a neighbour's front garden across the road.

Severance payment

A month after the shooting, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced that his investigation had found the shooting was justified because the officer was determined to have feared for his life.

Officer Jenison resigned weeks after the shooting and received a severance payment of $70,000 (£55,000).

The boy's mother, Sheila Albers, sued Overland Park for violating her son's constitutional rights, and the city last year settled the wrongful death lawsuit for $2.3m.

In a statement quoted by the Kansas City Star on Thursday, Ms Albers said: "The FBI investigation highlights the failure of Overland Park and District Attorney Steve Howe to be transparent in their investigations and be accountable to their constituents.

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"We are thankful to the FBI and the US Attorney for the district of Kansas for reopening the case and shed light on what Overland Park and our DA have been able to keep hidden."

Sean Reilly, a spokesman for the city of Overland Park, said officials would "fully cooperate" with the FBI inquiry.

There was no immediate comment from the Overland Park Police Department or the Johnson County district attorney's Office.

Transparency and accountability

On the day he died, John told his parents he did not want to join them for dinner.

After his family went out, the teenager made posts on social media that led friends to fear for his mental health. They called emergency services to check on his welfare.

Mrs Albers told KCUR in Kansas City last year: "We left the house at about 5:10 and John was dead by 5:50.

"If you were there to prevent a suicide, why would you draw your gun?"

Mrs Albers has since set up an advocacy group called JoCo United to press for more transparency and accountability from Johnson County officials and improved mental health services.

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