KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City Police have released the names of an officer and his K9 partner who were killed in an accident Wednesday night.
Officer James Muhlbauer, a 20-year veteran of the department, and K9 officer Champ were patrolling near the intersection of Truman Road and Benton Boulevard when another vehicle struck their patrol car at around 10:15 p.m.
That crash caused a second collision with a pedestrian. Emergency crews declared the pedestrian dead at the scene. The identity of this person has not yet been released. Police Chief Stacey Graves would only say that that pedestrian was a man in his 50s. She also declined to name the driver of the car that hit Muhlbauer.
“The fatal crash is under investigation, including the possibility of impaired driving of the striking vehicle,” Graves said during a news conference on Thursday.
Muhlbauer was taken to an area hospital with serious injuries and later died in the hospital. Champ was killed on the spot.
“The officers were serving and protecting this city. They were putting themselves in danger. They were public servants the city needs, and in an instant we lost them,” said Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves. “Our department is hurting. We are sad and shaken, but this is great compared to what is going through the family of agent Muhlbauer.
Muhlbauer was married and a father, according to Graves. K9 Champ lived with his family.
“He was a loving husband and devoted father to a little boy who lost his best friend last night,” Graves continued on Thursday.
“Please pray for the Muhlbauer family,” Graves said. “They need strength and love, and this department, while suffering, we will give them both.”
The driver of the other vehicle suffered minor injuries and was arrested for further investigation. Graves says the driver is male. The case has not yet been sent to prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.
“The moment that strikes me today is that arrest he made on I-29 of Brandon Howell and helped secure that conviction,” Baker said after Thursday’s news conference.
Baker claims Howell was the man who killed five people in a killing spree in South Kansas City in 2014.
“This officer very heroically arrested Brandon Howell that night en route to I-29,” Baker continued. “And if it weren’t for him, I fear what further damage would have come to our community without that arrest, so we are grateful to him.”
Muhlbauer’s funeral is still pending.