NATIONAL NEWS

Kansas man pleads guilty to causing crash that killed officer, pedestrian and K-9 last February

Feb 24, 2024, 1:39 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man has pleaded guilty to smashing into a Kansas City, Missouri, patrol car last year and killing an officer, his K-9 partner and a pedestrian.

Jerron Lightfoot of Tonganoxie, Kansas, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and admitted speeding through a red light before the crash, according to the Kansas City Star. Officer James Muhlbauer, 42, Jesse Eckes, 52, and Champ the dog were all killed.

Lightfoot told the judge that he got lost that night last February while he was driving back toward Kansas.

Prosecutors have said Lightfoot was traveling at least 85 mph just before the collision.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to recommend no more than 10 years in prison, though Assistant Prosecutor Lauren Whiston said she anticipated that Lightfoot’s lawyers would ask for a much more lenient sentence when the 20-year-old returns to court in April.

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.

Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves attended Friday’s plea hearing along with several uniformed police officers, but she didn’t comment on the case

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Kansas man pleads guilty to causing crash that killed officer, pedestrian and K-9 last February