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Families of Overland Park police officer, hit-and-run suspect form bond after fatal traffic stop

Mosher and Carneys web
Posted at 5:00 AM, May 22, 2023

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Three years ago this month, Overland Park Police Department Ofc. Mike Mosher encountered Phillip Carney during a Sunday afternoon traffic stop.

Carney was a suspect in a hit-and-run case, and Mosher was on his way to work.

Minutes after they met, Carney pulled a gun, and the men shot and killed each other. It was a tragedy as both left behind young children.

But a surprising bond was born out of heartbreak. Amazingly, Mike Mosher and Phillip Carney's parents became close friends.

"After this happened, I wanted to crawl in a hole," said Paul Carney, Phillip’s father. "I've got three brothers that are retired from police departments, and I was a firefighter, and this could not have been a worse disaster."

Paul Carney and his wife Julie Carney were living with the fresh pain that not only was their son Phillip gone, but he had also murdered a police officer.

Then, they received a request they couldn't believe.

"His mother wants you at the funeral service,” said Julie Carney, Phillip’s mother. “I said, ‘You've got to be kidding? Why would she want anything to do with us?’”

The Carneys attended Mike Mosher’s funeral, where the friendship between the two families grew.

"The first thing she said to me is the reason we're here — 'Jesus loved your son as much as he loved mine. And we both lost a child that day,’" Julie Carney said.

Paul Carney described how it felt when the Moshers took a position of grace and forgiveness.

"When the Moshers reached out to us, it was like somebody throwing you a life preserver," Paul Carney said.

The circumstances of their meeting are worth pointing out as well. A family member of the Carneys, who knew Mike Mosher, anonymously sent food to the Moshers the night of the shooting.

Mike Mosher’s father, Scott Mosher, said he and his wife, Shellee, learned where the food came from and immediately recognized that they weren’t the only ones in pain.

"We felt their pain as much as I know we felt our own pain in losing a son," Scott Mosher said.

Scott Mosher said the first and most important step was forgiveness.

"Shellee said to me, ‘Can you forgive Phillip for what he did?’” Scott Mosher said. “And I said, ‘It never entered my mind not to.’ She said, ‘I feel the same way.’"

That forgiveness led to the Moshers attending Phillip Carney's funeral.

"That's complete and total mercy that we've been given," Julie Carney said. “Complete and total mercy and forgiveness that you don't see in this world today."

Kansas City met Mike Mosher through the television coverage of his funeral and Phillip Carney through Mike Mosher's cell phone video of the encounter.

But at the time of their son’s death, Julie Carney described Phillip as “not somebody we knew at all."

The Carneys said that Phillip struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. It had become so severe, Phillip slashed his parents' tires and threatened to kill Paul Carney.

Julie and Paul even petitioned courts not to allow Phillip's release from jail on previous charges.

But the way he died was their worst fear.

"He took someone else with him,” Julie Carney said. “He took the officer with him."

For some time, Paul Carney said he feared his son would cause a drunk-driving accident.

"We were praying that when it came, that he wouldn't take out a family by driving around drunk, that he wouldn't take somebody else with him," Paul Carney said.

While Moshers forgave Phillip Carney very quickly, the process has been different for his parents.

"It took some time,” Julie Carney said. “I was angry. I say it's a guilty peace when he died."

Paul Carney said he also couldn't help but feel "bitter" and "hurt," but he understood that staying in that feeling for too long would then cause him to hurt those around him.

Mike Mosher’s mother, Shellee, passed away in 2021, but Scott and the Carneys' friendship remains.

As tragic as their story is, they take every opportunity to share it.

"There's always amazement,” Julie Carney said. “Amazement is a good word for it. I think I'm a better person now because of Scott and Shellee than I was before."

The feeling is mutual.

"It's knowing that when I feel down and low, I can pick up the phone and call, and somebody understands," Scott Mosher said. "We have that forever tie, our families do together, because my son took him (Phillip) too."

Faith is central to the bond between the families.

"Anything is possible with God's mercy, that's what it's taught me," Paul Carney said. "God has taken this, and he's making a masterpiece out of it. I can't see it any other way."

Scott Mosher said as difficult as it is, he tries to watch the video of the shooting, recorded on his son’s cell phone, every year on May 3, just to hear his son's voice.

The Carneys say they're working to change laws to ensure that people who have assaulted police officers, as Phillip Carney had before the shooting, are not able to be released on bail.

Paul and Julie tell KSHB 41 that Phillip had been released not long before the shooting, and they believe that the shooting might not have happened if that weren't possible.