Officer, pedestrian and police dog die in Kansas City crash

February 16, 2023 GMT

An officer who made the arrest in a notorious quintuple homicide nearly a decade ago, his police dog and a pedestrian were all killed when a driver crashed into the officer’s cruiser, authorities in Missouri said.

Kansas City police said the crash happened Wednesday night as Officer James Muhlbauer was on patrol. The driver who struck the cruiser suffered minor injuries and was taken into custody.

The pedestrian, identified only as a man in his 50s, died at the scene, as did the officer’s dog, Champ. Muhlbauer was rushed to a hospital where he later died.

Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said officers are investigating the cause of the crash, including whether alcohol was involved. She said there is no indication that the officer was at fault.

Graves said that officers from another department brought Champ’s remains to the hospital so the two partners could be reunited for what she described as their “heroes’ escort.”

“You live with your dog, your partner, your family lives with your partner,” she said. “You go to work every day. You train every day. You literally eat, sleep and live with your partner. They’re more than just a dog. They are truly the best partners they can have.”

Police said Muhlbauer, who was married and a father, was a 20-year veteran of the force. Graves asked for prayers for Muhlbauer’s family and said that officers are “shaken” and “hurting.”

In 2014, Muhlbauer “heroically” arrested Brandon Howell after Howell killed five people in a quiet cul-de-sac when his attempt to steal a classic Jaguar went awry, said Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. Howell, who previously was acquitted in the killings of two Kansas teens, is serving multiple life terms, with no chance of parole, in the quintuple homicide.

Mayor Quinton Lucas noted that the deadly crash came just days after another officer was hit by gunfire and wounded at the department’s headquarters shortly after the Chiefs won the Super Bowl. It also followed a tiring day in which the city’s officers oversaw a parade to celebrate the victory.

“We all grieve with the Kansas City Police Department, the women and men of the department,” Lucas said. “We grieve certainly with the officer’s family.”