Federal authorities have launched a civil rights investigation into the death of a teenager shot more than a dozen times by police.
What is the background?
The shooting death of 17-year-old John Albers in Overland Park, Kansas, sparked national outcry in January 2018 and triggered accusations of excessive use of force.
Police were dispatched to Albers' home on Jan. 20, 2018, to perform a wellness check after they were alerted that he was threatening to hurt himself. The situation quickly escalated when the two officers arrived at the home.
One of the responding officers approached the home's garage door after it opened. That's when a minivan began backing out, allegedly toward one of the officers. The officer drew his firearm and ordered the vehicle to stop. The driver inside initially complied.
But then investigators say the driver suddenly accelerated, drove erratically in the neighborhood, then backed over the curb in front of the house and allegedly headed toward the officer. One police officer responded by firing 13 shots at the vehicle, ultimately killing the driver — who was Albers.
Following an investigation, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced the officer responsible for killing Albers would not face criminal charges because the shooting was justified under Kansas state law.
"It should have been we are terminating you and charges brought against him because he didn't follow the policy and used excessive force and cost my son his life," Albers' mom, Sheila, recently told WDAF-TV of the officer who killed her son.
According to KMBC-TV, the Overland Park Police Department has implemented significant policy changes since Albers' death, including how officers respond to mental health crises as well as adopting a policy that prohibits shooting at moving vehicles, with exceptions in rare circumstances, like an act of terrorism.
What's happening now?
The Department of Justice revealed last week it has opened a civil rights investigation into Albers' untimely death.
"The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner," FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said.
The FBI's Kansas City field office, the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas, and the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division are jointly working on the investigation, NBC News reported.
Authorities did not specify which potential violations of Albers' civil rights they are investigating.
In response, Sheila Albers told KMBC-TV, "I'm stunned. I'm completely stunned. My first thought was, 'Finally. Finally, there will be some transparency and there will be accountability.'"
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