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3 WyCo law enforcement officers charged following December 2019 crash

wyndotte county district attorney mark dupree
Posted at 4:13 PM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 23:43:10-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Three Wyandotte County law enforcement officers are facing charges stemming from a December 2019 crash.

Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Michael Simmons Jr. is charged with leaving the scene of a crash, Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree announced during a news conference Wednesday. Simmons has been with the sheriff’s office since 2008.

"Our law enforcement agencies are no longer willing to stand quiet and silently by as the few destroys the trust of so many," Dupree said.

Former Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department Detective Sarah Panjeda has been charged with official misconduct related to the December crash and also faces an interference charge stemming from a June 2020 incident. She had been employed with the KCKPD since 2011 but is no longer a member of the department.

According to a KCKPD spokesperson, Panjeda left in February 2020 "to pursue other opportunities."

Andrew Carver, a major in the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office, also faces one count of official misconduct for the December 2019 incident and is being charged with interference in an official investigation in June.

Prosecutors allege that Simmons was driving when the crash occurred on Interstate 70, Dupree said. When the investigation began to determine who was driving and how the crash occurred, the other officers “in some way obstructed that investigation.”

Carver, Panjeda and Simmons will appear in court in February in Division 5.

Separately, KCKPD Officer Travis Toms faces a Class A misdemeanor charge of buying sexual relations with an individual 18 years old or older in a Nov. 16, 2020, incident.

"Our hope is that the community sees that regardless of who you are or what position you hold or what title you hold, that no one is above the law," Dupree said. "And all of us should be held accountable for the actions we take."

KCKPD said in a statement that it launched an investigation into Toms in November and placed him on administrative leave on Dec. 15. The department then turned his case over to the county District Attorney's Office in January.

"Our Department message remains clear to our employees and the community in which we live and serve — any behavior unbefitting an officer will not be tolerated or excused," KCKPD said in the statement. "All complaints whether received internally or from the public will continue to be investigated thoroughly and efficiently."