KANSAS CITY Mo. — It was a somber day as thousands of people mourned the deaths of Kansas City Officer James Muhlbauer and his K9 Officer Champ, who were killed in a crash last week.
Hundreds of police cars from departments across the region participated in a procession that ended at Municipal Auditorium around 9 a.m.
Public visitation started at 9:30 a.m. with the public welcome to pay their respects. A private funeral was held at 11:30 a.m. Replay the funeral in the video player below.
Multiple family members and fellow officers spoke at the funeral, remembering Muhlbauer and Champ.
“If only we knew that that was the last time we would see him again. We would have said more, hugged tighter, kissed tighter or said, ‘Be extra safe tonight.’ The thing is we never know when our loved ones will never make it home again,” Chasity Hendricks said on behalf of Muhlbauer’s wife Cassie Muhlbauer.
“I hope you’re up there and heaven is treating you well with the best Bojo’s pizza with honey,” daughter Makenzie Allison said. “Champ, I hope you never have to stop playing fetch. Jim, we love you to death.”
“Your life was taken so early, without getting the chance to prove what kind of Champ you are,” Tanner Moats said on behalf of the K9 Unit.
Following the funeral service, Muhlbauer and Champ were presented with full honors outside on 13th Street in front of the auditorium. Officers and K9s from other departments lined the sidewalk.
From there, family and dozens of officers participated in a recession from Municipal Auditorium to a Northland funeral home after the funeral service.
The public was welcome to take part in the recession or line the route to pay their respects to Muhlbauer and Champ. The route continued past the funeral home, allowing Muhlbauer’s family to see the support for the fallen officer.
Muhlbauer and Champ were killed last week when another driver hit the patrol vehicle they were in.
Muhlbauer, a 20-year veteran of the Kansas City Police Department, and Champ were patrolling near the intersection of Truman Road and Benton Boulevard.
Prosecutors say 18-year-old Jerron Lightfoot was driving at 85 mph and ran a red light, striking the patrol car. He’s been charged with two counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter.
The crash knocked Muhlbauer unconscious in the driver’s seat, and he was taken to an area hospital with critical injuries. Champ was in the backseat of the patrol vehicle at the time of the crash. Muhlbauer later died at the hospital. Champ was killed at the scene.
That crash caused a second collision with a pedestrian, later identified as 52-year-old Jesse Eckes. Emergency crews pronounced Eckes dead at the scene.
Mayor Quinton Lucas said the same funeral home that handled Muhlbauer’s services will also handle Eckes’ for free.
Gov. Mike Parson attended the funeral and ordered state flags to be lowered Wednesday at all government buildings in Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties. Muhlbauer and Champ worked in all four counties.
Union Station also turned its lights blue overnight to honor the fallen officer and K9.
The Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 99 is taking donations to support the Muhlbauer family.