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Loved ones remember victims of crash that killed police officer, K-9 and pedestrian

By Emily Rittman

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    KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KCTV) — An 18-year-old Tonganoxie man is charged with two counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter following a deadly crash that killed a police officer, his K-9 partner and a pedestrian near Truman Road and Benton Boulevard on Wednesday.

According to online court records, Jerron Allen Lightfoot posted 10% of his $30,000 bond Friday. Late Friday evening, Lightfoot was still listed as an inmate at the Jackson County Detention Center. If released, his bond conditions include house arrest and no driving.

A growing memorial outside of the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department headquarters drew mourners Friday. Loved ones and strangers placed flowers, cards and keepsakes to honor

Officer James “Jim” Muhlbauer and K-9 Champ who were killed in the line of duty.

Prosecutors say crash data revealed that, two seconds prior to the crash, Lightfoot was driving over 89 mph in a 35 mph zone. According to court records, a witness and surveillance video from nearby businesses showed Lightfoot ran a red light before crashing into the officer’s patrol vehicle. Lightfoot’s vehicle’s electronic system showed his vehicle’s brakes were working prior to the crash.

Investigators say surveillance and dash camera video shows Officer Muhlbauer had a green light when his patrol vehicle was stuck.

“Truly he is a hero in the community,” friend Cassie Oslin said. “Everything he stands for. He is the most dedicated husband, father and friend.”

Friends and strangers paid their respects on Friday. Many held back tears thinking of Officer Muhlbauer’s 10-year-old son and wife.

“It’s such a great loss to the community,” Oslin said. “He is such a great human being. We just ask that anyone who can support the family.”

Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 99, created a fund to assist Officer Muhlbauer’s family. A Meal Train has been set up, as well.

Muhlbauer was a 20-year veteran of the KCPD.

“He chose to put himself in harm’s way when most people would choose to run away,” KC FOP President Brad Lemon said. “To lose a man who spent 20 years, and planned on spending many more, is difficult.”

Friends of the man who was standing nearby and was also killed by the crash are heartbroken. They said he was in the process of finding housing before his death. Police have not yet released his identity pending family notifications. KCTV5 News is waiting to release his name until family notifications are complete.

“You can’t ever bring him back,” Kristyna Kleban said. “He is maybe here in spirit, watching over me, but it’s not the same. He is not here. You can’t get a life back. You can’t replace that.”

Anton Washington with Creative Innovative, a street outreach organization, said the man was loved by many members of the unhoused community.

“His life didn’t have to end this way. He was an innocent bystander,” Washington said. “People drive uncontrollably in these streets, not understanding that pedestrians are human. They are not poles. They are not trees. You take a person’s life, you have to deal with that for the rest of your life.”

Kleban said she wants justice to be served for each of the victims.

“Everybody is grieving. Everybody has just been through a lot. The police community. The unhoused community,” volunteer with Kansas City Heroes Alina Heart said.

On Friday, K-9 units from around the metro joined together to escort the body of slain KCPD K-9 Champ from the North Kansas City Animal Control Center to Rolling Acres Pet Memorial Center.

KCPD announced Sunday that the visitation and funeral service for Officer James Muhlbauer and K-9 Champ will be Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. The visitation will be from 9:30 until 11 a.m. and the funeral will be at 11:30 a.m.

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