Kansan charged in wreck that killed officer, pedestrian, K-9

Feb 16, 2023, 6:42 PM | Updated: Feb 17, 2023, 8:50 am

This image provided by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department shows Police Officer James Muhlbauer and K-9 Officer Champ. Muhlbauer, an officer who made the arrest in a notorious quintuple homicide nearly a decade ago; his police dog; and a pedestrian were all killed when a driver crashed into the officer's cruiser on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, authorities in Missouri said. The driver who struck the cruiser suffered minor injuries and was taken into custody. (Kansas City Police Department via AP)

(Kansas City Police Department via AP)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An 18-year-old Kansas man has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter after a crash that killed a Kansas City police office r, a pedestrian and the officer’s K-9 police dog, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office announced Friday.

Jerron Allen Lightfoot, of Tonganoxie, was speeding and ran a red light at an intersection Wednesday night before colliding with a patrol car driven by officer James Muhlbauer, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Online court records do not name an attorney for Lightfoot.

Muhlbauer was found unconscious in the front seat, wearing his seat belt. He was transported to a hospital, where he later died. A pedestrian, a man in his 50s who has not been identified, was found deceased under Muhlbauer’s patrol car. The officer’s K-9 partner, Champ, died in the collision.

Video surveillance of the intersection showed Muhlbauer had a green light when he drove into the intersection, according to court documents.

Lightfoot, who was not injured, was speeding and drove through the red light before the collision, according to the documents.

Lightfoot told officers he tried to stop but his car’s brakes did not work, prosecutors said. Lightfoot said he felt “a lot of vibration” when he applied the brakes.

A check of Lightfoot’s vehicle showed the vehicle’s brakes were working and the vehicle was traveling at 85 mph or more just before impact, prosecutors said.

Police said Muhlbauer, who was married and a father, was a 20-year veteran of the force. Champ had been a K-9 with the force for a year.

In 2014, Muhlbauer arrested Brandon Howell, a suspect in the deaths of five people in a Kansas City neighborhood, said Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. Howell, who previously was acquitted in the killings of two Kansas teens, is serving multiple life terms, with no chance of parole, in the quintuple homicide.

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