KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri, Police Officer James Muhlbauer and his partner, K-9 Officer Champ, were killed in a two-vehicle crash, which also killed a pedestrian, at approximately 10:15 pm on Wednesday near Truman Road and Benton Boulevard.
Police Chief Stacey Graves announced the names of the two slain KCPD officers in an emotional press conference on Thursday afternoon.
“Our department is in pain,” Graves said. “We are sad and shaken, but this pales in comparison to what Agent Muhlbauer’s family is going through. … Please pray for the Muhlbauer family. They need strength and love. And this department, during their mourning, will be there for them.
The pedestrian’s name has not yet been released, but Graves said it was a man in his 50s.
Muhlbauer, who went to Jim, spent 20 years on patrol for KCPD, including the last three years with the K-9 unit. He leaves behind his wife and son.
Muhlbauer is the officer who arrested Brandon Howell after he killed five people in the South Kansas City community of Woodbridge in 2014.
“It was tough last night,” Graves said. “Our officers are suffering / They are shaken; of course they are upset. I can tell you last night the bond and camaraderie of our K-9 officers was something to behold. They wanted to make sure that Champ and Jim were transported together for their hero’s escort.
K-9 officers live with their assigned patrol officer and are considered part of the family.
Graves thanked the officers who attended the scene of the accident and those who attended the hospital where Muhlbauer died.
He singled out the North Kansas City Police Department for transporting Champ to the hospital to be reunited with Muhlbauer.
No information was provided about the driver of the vehicle that Graves said hit the officer’s vehicle.
He said the possible impairment is under investigation and the case will be forwarded once completed to the Jackson County Attorney’s Office for consideration of the charges.
“At the outset, it wasn’t the officer’s fault,” Graves said.
This is the KCPD’s first death in service in 22 years and the 121st overall.
The last KCPD to die in service was Ofc. Craig Schultz, killed May 9, 2001 in a motorcycle accident.
Nine KCPDs died in car crashes and 13 in motorcycle crashes, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
There have now been four KCPD K-9 killed in service, but this is the first since 2007.
The Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 99, the union representing the KCPD, has set up a website for those wishing to donate to Muhlbauer’s family.