KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tragedy struck the Kansas City Police Department in Missouri Wednesday evening when a police officer, his K9 partner, and a pedestrian were all killed after a vehicle crashed into the K9 handler’s patrol unit.
Law enforcement authorities said the violent collision occurred just after 10:15 p.m. near the area of Benton Blvd. and Truman Road. A vehicle smashed into the police cruiser, then one or both vehicles subsequently struck a person walking nearby, KMBC reported.
According to authorities, the police K9 and the pedestrian died at the scene, while the officer was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The driver of the striking automobile suffered unspecified minor injuries. The person was taken into custody for questioning.
KCPD Chief Stacey Graves said that charges were possible for the driver. She noted that impairment could have been involved in the crash, but said it would be several days before the investigation will be presented to a prosecutor for formal charges.
Local reporter Martin Augustine of KMBC said the police K9 had been in service for about one year, and a Kansas City, Missouri police officer has not suffered a line-of-duty death since 2001, according to a memorial on KCPD’s website.
Later, during a Thursday press conference, Chief Graves identified the fallen officer as James Muhlbauer and the fallen police service dog as K9 Champ.
Muhlbauer was a 20-year police veteran and had been a K9 handler for the past three years. Champ lived with the officer and his family.
Muhlbauer was married and also a father, KMBC reported.
“Please pray for the Muhlbauer family,” the chief asked. “They need strength and love, and this department, while grieving, will give them both.”
Rest In Peace, Officer James Muhlbauer and K-9 Officer Champ.
The partners were killed in the line of duty Wednesday night when a vehicle crashed into them while they were on patrol.
Muhlbauer was a 20-year veteran of KCPD, while K-9 Champ was with us for one year.
— kcpolice (@kcpolice) February 16, 2023
The identity of the deceased pedestrian has not yet been released, but KCPD said the victim is a man in his 50s.
“There’s a second family also hurting, belonging to the pedestrian that died. Please pray for them as well,” Chief Graves added.
Nine years ago, Muhlbauer arrested was of the most notorious murder suspect’s in the city’s recent history, according to KSHB.
The suspect, identified as Brandon Howell, beat two people to death then shot and killed three others on Sept. 2, 2014, in the Woodbridge Community, a quiet suburban neighborhood in south Kansas City, Missouri.
Muhlbauer located Howell several miles away from the bloody crime scene as he walked along southbound Interstate 29 later that day and took him into custody.
During the arrest, Muhlbauer discovered the killer possessed a 12-gauge shotgun barrel and magazine tube in his pant leg, according to the news outlet.
The officer subsequently located two shell casings along the roadway, which matched those at the crime scene, KSHB reported.
Howell was convicted of the homicides and is serving a life sentence.