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Man, 24, charged in Tuesday killing of North Kansas City police officer

NEW Joshua Rocha mugshot.jpg
Posted at 11:52 AM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 12:16:35-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Clay County prosecutors Wednesday charged a Kansas City, Missouri, man with murder in connection to the Tuesday shooting death of North Kansas City police officer Daniel Vasquez.

Joshua T. Rocha, 24, has been charged with first-degree murder. He faces the death penalty or life in prison.

Rocha also was charged with armed criminal action. He will be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday in Clay County court.

He is currently being held on a $2 million bond.

NKC Chief of Police Kevin Freeman thanked the prosecutor’s office for bringing charges quickly.

He also said that funeral arrangements will be announced after the family finalizes the details.

NKC Mayor Bryant DeLong thanked the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department and Clay County Sheriff’s Office for its assistance with the investigation.

“Today’s announcement is the first step in achieving any justice for Daniel’s death,” DeLong said.

Freeman said it’s not uncommon for NKC police officers to initiate traffic stops alone, but noted that other officers aren’t very far away in most instances because of North Kansas City’s relatively small size.

The NKC Police Department may consider adjusting its policy in light of Vasquez’s death.

“Anytime anything happens, we are going to look at policy and procedure reviews,” Freeman said.

KCPD Dep. Chief Mike Wood said a weapon was recovered during a search and the investigation continues to determine whether the gun was the one used to kill Vasquez.

Wood said Rocha lived in Kansas City, Missouri, and did not have a criminal history that he’s aware of at the time.

The vehicle belonged to Rocha, according to Wood.

Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Dan White said no decision has been made regarding whether to seek the death penalty.

Vasquez initiated a traffic stop for expired tags on a Ford Taurus that Rocha was driving around 10:40 a.m. on Tuesday.

Prosecutors allege that Rocha exited the car during the traffic stop and allegedly opened fire on Vasquez.

Vasquez was treated on scene by fellow officers before being rushed to nearby North Kansas City Hospital. He later died from his injuries.

A memorial fund has been set up for donations to Vasquez's family.

KSHB 41 Digital In-Depth Reporter Tod Palmer contributed to this report.

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Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the KSHB 41 News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015. Read the KSHB 41 News Mug Shot Policy.