Accused ‘cut a lot of breaks’ in KC officer, 2 deaths: Police

Accused ‘cut a lot of breaks’ in KC officer, 2 deaths: Police

A 19-year-old Tonganxie man accused of being the driver in a car crash last month had a history of traffic citations for a Kansas City police officer and a pedestrian, records show.

About six months ago the fatal crash that claimed the lives of the Kansas City Police Department Officer James MuhlbauerHis police dog Champ and pedestrian Jesse Akes, Jeron A. Lightfoot, were cited for careless driving.

On Aug. 3, 2022, he was stopped for driving without a valid license and careless driving, Tonganxie police records state. A note in Police Chief Greg Lawson’s docket read, “The defendant will have to plead to what was charged, nothing redacted because they already cut him too many breaks.”

In an email Wednesday, Lawson said, “In light of the pending criminal case in Kansas City, Missouri, I believe it would be inappropriate for me to comment. That process is an important one, and we do not want to inadvertently interfere with any pending criminal proceedings.”

The license charge was dismissed and Lightfoot pleaded guilty to careless driving. The case was closed on December 21, 2022.

Before that, Leavenworth County records show he was issued a traffic violation on Oct. 4, 2021, when he was driving 87 mph in a 65 mph zone. He entered into a diversion agreement and the case was dismissed in March 2022.

Lightfoot was also cited for speeding 13-17 mph over the limit and issued a warning for running a stop light on April 7, 2021, according to Tonganxie Police Department documents. He was ordered to pay $125.

Kansas City police are investigating a Feb. 15 crash that killed a Kansas City police officer and a pedestrian near the intersection of Truman Road and Benton Boulevard.

On Feb. 15, Jeron A. of Tonganoxie. Lightfoot crashed into a Kansas City Police Department patrol car near Truman Road and Benton Boulevard. Impact where a secondary cause of collision A man was hit. Court documents allege Lightfoot was traveling about 90 mph two seconds before the impact and ran a red light.

The Lightfoot was charged including two counts of involuntary manslaughter by Jackson County prosecutors. He was released from jail after posting a $3,000 bond. His attorney did not return a call seeking comment.

Mike Mansour, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said they review a person’s criminal history in all cases.

“As this is a pending case, ethical norms do not allow us to comment on the accused persons or their pending cases,” Mansoor added. “This case is deeply important to the victims’ families and our community. We look forward to the presentation of evidence at the appropriate time.”

John Picarno, a Kansas City criminal defense attorney not associated with the case, said past municipal cases are generally not admissible at trial. A defendant’s past convictions, however, can be brought up by prosecutors during the sentencing phase.

Last week, Casey Muhlbauer, widow of James Muhlbauer, sent a letter Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey has said he believes the prosecutor’s office is “anti-police” and called for another prosecutor to step in. The letter also says he and his supporters want assurances that Lightfoot will serve time in prison if convicted.

Under Missouri law, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each count of first-degree involuntary manslaughter if convicted.

Lightfoot’s next court date is set for April 11.

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