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Procession takes fallen K-9 officer Champ to Rolling Acres Memorial Garden in Northland

Champ procession
Posted at 11:24 AM, Feb 17, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A police procession Friday morning transported K-9 Officer Champ, who was killed in a traffic crash Wednesday night, from North Kansas City Animal Control to Rolling Acres Memorial Garden.

Champ was taken across the Kit Bond Bridge, which spans the Missouri River along Interstate 35/Interstate 29 just north of downtown, shortly before 10:30 a.m. on Friday.

The night of the crash, North Kansas City police officers went to the scene and removed Champ, who died in the backseat of KCPD Officer James Muhlbauer's car after it was struck by a car that ran a red light.

Muhlbauer later died from injuries suffered in the crash at a nearby hospital and a pedestrian also was killed after he was pinned under the police cruiser.

NKC police officers took Champ to the hospital then transported the Muhlbauer and his K-9 to the medical examiner's office.

NKC's police K-9 unit, which includes three sworn officers, later took Champ to the animal control building, where the city's K-9 unit took turns standing vigil until Champ's procession.

KCPD Chief of Police Stacey Graves identified Muhlbauer and Champ Thursday during an emotional news conference.

The Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office announced Friday morning that Jerron Allen Lightfoot, 18, of Tonganoxie, was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. He allegedly was driving nearly 85 mph when he ran through a red light southbound on Benton Boulevard and crashed into Muhlbauer's vehicle as it drove east on Truman Road.

Missouri law defines involuntary manslaughter, a class C felony, as "recklessly" causing the death of a person. It is punishable by three to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

The Franklin County, Kansas, Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit joined several K9 units from across the Kansas City area to pay respects to Champ.