• Search

Heroes Down: Kansas City Police Officer James Muhlbauer And K9 Champ Killed In On-Duty Crash

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City Police Department Officer James “Jim” Muhlbauer and his partner, K9 Champ, died in the line of duty on Wednesday night after a motorist crashed into their patrol vehicle.

The incident occurred in the area of Benton Boulevard and Truman Road shortly after 10:15 p.m. on Feb. 15, the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) said in a press release on Thursday.

Officer Muhlbauer and K9 Champ were out on patrol when another motorist slammed into their vehicle, according to investigators.

The crash caused a secondary collision with a male pedestrian who was in his 50s, The Kansas City Star reported.

K9 Champ and the pedestrian both succumbed to their injuries at the scene, according to the KCPD.

The critically-injured officer was rushed to the hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.

“Doctors made every attempt at treatment but tragically he was declared deceased at the hospital,” the KCPD said.

The driver of the vehicle that crashed into the patrol car was taken into custody and suffered only minor injuries.

The driver’s identity was not immediately released.

The agency’s Traffic Investigation Section is handling the ongoing investigation into the deadly crash.

Officer Muhlbauer was a 20-year veteran of the department and had been assigned to the K9 Unit for nearly three years, according to the KCPD.

He was also a husband and father.

K9 Champ had been with the department for one year and was a beloved member of Officer Muhlbauer’s family.

“Our department is hurting,” KCPD Chief Stacey Graves said during an emotional press conference on Tuesday, according to KSHB. “We’re sad and we’re shaken, but this pales in comparison to what Officer Muhlbauer’s family is going through. … Please pray for the Muhlbauer family. They need strength and love. And this department, while grieving, will be there for them.”

The North Kansas City Police Department transported K9 Champ to the hospital where officer Muhlbauer died so the duo could be reunited, Chief Graves said.

“The bond and the camaraderie of our K-9 officers was something to see,” she said, according to KSHB. “They wanted to be sure that Champ and Jim were transported together for their hero’s escort.”

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas released a statement offering his condolences to the fallen heroes’ loved ones in the wake of the deadly crash.

“This morning, our city mourns the loss of life of a twenty-year veteran of the Kansas City Police Department, along with an innocent civilian and a canine officer,” Lucas said in a tweet. “My prayers are with the families and friends of those we have lost and all of the women and men of law enforcement.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Kansas City Police Department Officer James “Jim” Muhlbauer and K9 Champ, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, heroes. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


Sign up to our daily newsletter so you don't miss out on the latest events surrounding law enforcement!

Follow Me

Follow us on social media and be sure to mark us as "See First."