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Kansas Police Chief Resigns After Confrontation with Victim's Mother

After the mother of John Albers, a 17-year-old shot dead by a police officer in 2018, sent an email to leaders in her Kansas City suburb saying the chief had disparaged her parenting and didn’t refute her claims that he had lied about the status of the officer’s employment in a televised interview, the police chief of Overland Park, Kan., suddenly resigned Tuesday. Officials did not detail why Frank Donchez resigned, but they released the email Sheila Albers sent to the mayor and city manager describing her encounter with the chief after the media inquired about his departure, the Washington Post reports. Donchez, 63, faced controversy following the shooting of Albers, defended his comments, and insisted he resigned for personal reasons. Donchez was chief in January 2018 when Albers, after threatening to kill himself on social media, drove a family minivan out of his garage and was repeatedly shot by Officer Clayton Jenison. Jenison fired 13 times, nearly all when he was not in the path of the van, according to experts and a federal judge who watched dashboard camera videos of the incident. Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe ruled the shooting was justifiable and Donchez found that the killing did not violate Overland Park policies.

In March 2018, Overland Park paid Jenison $70,000, which wasn’t publicly disclosed until Albers’s mother discovered it in 2020. Donchez certified to the state police licensing board that Jenison left the force voluntarily. As Sheila Albers continued to push for transparency, the police department stepped up its training for officers in dealing with mental health crises. On Monday, Albers sent a message advocating for more women on the force and attended the city council meeting that night to discuss it. Albers said Donchez approached her in hopes of collaborating on the female officer initiative. Albers refused because she said he's a liar. She said he claimed that Jenison had left the department “a week or two” after the shooting and had not been encouraged to leave. Jenison actually stayed on the force for another six weeks. Albers said Donchez told her, “I am sure you and Steve tell everyone you were the best parents,” referring to John Albers’s father and Sheila’s husband. “And you left him at his time of need,” referring to John Albers’s suicidal thoughts before his death. Sheila Albers said the conversation ended with Donchez telling her he would remain chief until he retired. “It is clear Donchez justifies the use of force because in his mind we failed as parents,” Sheila Albers said Monday, describing the case as “victim blaming at its worst.”


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