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Teen Ran Red Light At 89 MPH Before He Slammed Into Police Car Killing Officer, K9, And Pedestrian

Kansas City, MO – An 18-year-old man was traveling at least 89 miles per hour moments before he barreled through a red light and slammed into Kansas City Police Officer James Muhlbauer’s patrol car on Wednesday night, killing the veteran officer, his K9 partner, and a pedestrian.

Jerron Lightfoot, 18, has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for allegedly causing the deadly collision, The Kansas City Star reported.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced the charges against Lightfoot on Friday.

“We extend our condolences to both grieving families and the police department,” Baker said, according to The Kansas City Star. “We are grateful for the pace of the police department’s investigative work that allowed us to file these charges so quickly.”

The incident, which was captured on video, 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 his partner, K9 Champ, were out on patrol when another motorist sped through a red light and slammed into their vehicle at approximately 62 miles per hour, causing the squad to roll over, according to KCTV.

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

Officers found the deceased pedestrian beneath the patrol vehicle.

K9 Champ’s body was discovered in the back seat.

Officer Muhlbauer was found unconscious and seat-belted in the driver’s seat of his wrecked patrol car, The Kansas City Star reported.

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.

Police found Lightfoot standing next to a crashed white Ford Fusion when they arrived at the scene, The Kansas City Star reported.

He was subsequently taken into custody.

Investigators said Lightfoot claimed his brakes failed just prior to the crash, but information obtained from his vehicle’s electrical system indicated the brakes were working fine before the impact.

Police said the driver had been going 89 miles per hour and ran a red light before it slammed into the patrol vehicle, the Kansas City Star reported.

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.”

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.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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