A public visit was set Wednesday for the Kansas City police officer killed in an accident last week along with his police K-9.
Community members who would like to pay their respects to Officer James Muhlbauer, 42, and his police dog Champ, may arrive between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Municipal Auditorium at 301 West 13th Street in Kansas City.
Muhlbauer was patrolling with Champ when they were struck by another vehicle Wednesday night near Truman Road and Benton Boulevard. The impact caused a secondary collision with a pedestrian, police officials said.
The officer, known to family and friends as “Jim”, was married and a father. He joined the Kansas City Police Department in 2002. Champ was a 3 year old Dutch Shepherd.
A memorial service at 11.30am will follow the visit on Wednesday. The department plans to stream the service.
A father, KCPD veteran
Muhlbauer spent his career in the patrol division; he’s been serving with the K-9 unit for the past three years.
In 2014, Muhlbauer worked closely with the Jackson County Attorney’s Office until his arrest of Brandon Howell, who was subsequently convicted of five counts of first-degree murder.
In a press conference Thursday, city officials expressed their grief over the tragedy, noting that both Muhlbauer and his K-9 Champ were serving the city when they died.
“The officers were serving and protecting this city,” said Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves. “They were putting themselves in danger. They were civil servants that the city needs. And the moment we lost them. Our department is suffering. We are sad and we are shaken”.
Mayor Quinton Lucas also posted his condolences on Twitter.
“This morning, our city mourns the death of a 20-year veteran of the Kansas City Police Department, along with an innocent civilian and a canine officer,” Lucas wrote. “My prayers are with the families and friends of those we have lost and with all the women and men in law enforcement.”
On Friday, Jackson County Attorney Jean Peters Baker announced that her office has filed two manslaughter charges against Jerron Lightfoot, 18, of Tonganoxie, for driving a vehicle at an excessive speed and running a traffic light. red, causing the fatal accident.
The crash was reported at around 10:15 pm Wednesday when Muhlbauer’s patrol car was hit by another vehicle near Truman Road and Benton Boulevard. The impact caused a secondary collision with a pedestrian, Sgt. Jake Becchina, a Kansas City Police Department spokesman, said at the time.
Kansas City Police were investigating an accident involving a police vehicle and another vehicle that occurred Wednesday night near the intersection of Truman Road and Benton Boulevard. A pedestrian died at the scene, a police officer was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries and the other driver was arrested as part of the police investigation.
Officers responding to the crash found a man standing next to a white Ford Fusion, one of the crashed vehicles. The man was later identified as Lightfoot, the driver and sole occupant of the Ford, according to court documents filed Thursday.
The second vehicle at the scene of the crash was the unmarked police car driven by Muhlbauer, who was found unconscious at the scene. Authorities say he was wearing a seat belt. His police K-9 Champ was found dead in the second row.
Muhlbauer was taken to an area hospital and later pronounced deceased. Police found a second deceased male, a man in his 50s who has not been publicly identified, under the police vehicle.
Court records describe video footage of the incident showing the police officer traveling east on Truman Road at a green light at the intersection with Benton Boulevard. The white Ford was shown traveling south on Benton Boulevard at high speed and authorities say Lightfoot failed to stop at a red light shortly before hitting the police vehicle. Prosecutors say the officer’s dash cam also showed he had a green light as he crossed the intersection.
Authorities said tests of Ford’s electronic ACM system showed the vehicle’s brakes were working before the crash and that the vehicle was traveling 85 miles per hour or more just prior to impact.
The Fraternal Order of Police has started a fundraiser for Muhlbauer’s family. Donations can be made here.