KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Wyandotte County district attorney announced charges against multiple law enforcement officers on Wednesday.
Two members of the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office; one former member of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department; and one current member of KCKPD are now facing misdemeanor charges from two separate incidents.
Maj. Andrew Carver and former Det. Sarah Panjada have been charged with official misconduct and interference with law enforcement, both Class A misdemeanors. Carver has been with the sheriff’s office since 2004. Panjada was hired by KCK police in 2011, but left the department in February 2020.
Misconduct carries a maximum one-year jail sentence and a $1,000 fine if convicted. It can also bar a person from some jobs in the public service/official duty if convicted.
Det. Michael Simmons Jr. has been charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving injury or property damage, a Class A misdemeanor. He has been with the sheriff’s office since 2008. If convicted, his could face up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
These charges, Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree Sr. said, stem from a hit-and-run crash on Dec. 13, 2019, and the resulting investigation.
Simmons was driving his Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office vehicle when he was allegedly involved in the crash late that night and fled the scene near Interstate 70 and Interstate 435.
Dupree said the next day, when officials learned that a sheriff’s office vehicle was involved, “an effort was made to withhold information concerning the identity and location of the driver.” That’s where Carver and Panjada’s official misconduct charges stem from.
The charges for interference with law enforcement stem from alleged actions in June 2020 during the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s involvement in the case.
Dupree didn’t provide more details on the allegations against Carver and Panjada but said if they hadn’t gotten in the way, Simmons could potentially be facing more charges, including impaired driving. But officials now don’t have the evidence for that.
“Our law enforcement agencies are no longer willing to stand by silently as the few destroy the trust of so many,” Dupree said. “Our hope as we move forward is we root out those that believe having the culture that allows such behaviors in uniform to occur will not be ever tolerated again.”
In a separate case, KCK Police Officer Travis Toms has been charged with buying sexual relations, a Class A misdemeanor. The charge carries a maximum one-year jail sentence and a $1,000 fine if convicted.
Dupree said the alleged crime happened Nov. 16, 2020 while Toms was on duty and in uniform.
KCK police said in a statement that they initiated an investigation on Toms in November 2020, and he was placed on administrative leave in December 2020.
“Upon completion of a thorough investigation, Internal Affairs Detectives presented the case to the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office on January 7th for prosecution. We will leave further details regarding the case to the District Attorney’s Office,” KCKPD said in a statement.
“Our Department message remains clear to our employees and the community in which we live and serve — any behavior unbefitting an officer will not be tolerated or excused. All complaints whether received internally or from the public will continue to be investigated thoroughly and efficiently.”