KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City police released the names of an officer and his K9 partner killed in a crash Wednesday night.
Officer James Muhlbauer, a 20-year veteran of the department, and K9 officer Champ were patrolling near the intersection of Truman Road and Benton Boulevard when another vehicle hit their patrol car around 10:15 p.m.
That crash caused a second collision with a pedestrian. Emergency crews pronounced the pedestrian dead at the scene. The identity of this person has not been released yet. Police Chief Stacey Graves would only say that that pedestrian was a man in his 50’s. She also wouldn’t release the name of the driver of the car that hit Muhlbauer’s.
“The fatality crash is under investigation, including the possibility of impaired driving of the striking vehicle,” Graves said during a press conference Thursday.
Muhlbauer was taken to an area hospital with critical injuries and later died at the hospital. Champ was killed at the scene.
“The officers were serving and protecting this city. They were putting themselves in harms way. They were being public servants the city needs, and in a moment, we lost them,” Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said. “Our department is hurting. We are sad, and we are shaken, but this hails in comparison to what Officer Muhlbauer’s family is going through.”
Muhlbauer was married and a father, according to Graves. K9 Champ lived with his family.
“He was a loving husband and a devoted father to a child who lost his best friend last night,” Graves continued Thursday.
“Please pray for the Muhlbauer family,” Graves said. “They need strength and love, and this department, while grieving, we will give them both.”
The driver of the other vehicle had minor injuries and was taken into custody for further investigation. Graves says that driver’s a male. The case has not been sent over to Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker yet.
“The time that sticks out to me today is that arrest that he made on I-29 of Brandon Howell and helped secure that conviction,” Baker said after Thursday’s press conference.
Baker says Howell was the man who killed five people in a South Kansas City killing spree in 2014.
“This officer very heroically arrested Brandon Howell that night along the roadside of I-29,” Baker continued. “And but for him, I fear what additional harm would have come to our community without that arrest, so we’re grateful for him.”
Funeral arrangements for Muhlbauer are still pending. The Fraternal Order of Police set up a fund to help his family in the aftermath of his loss.