WYANDOTTE COUNTY, KS (KCTV) -- On Wednesday, the Wyandotte County District Attorney announced an independent Community Integrity Unit is up and running.
The unit will investigate complaints of alleged misconduct by law enforcement.
The announcement came as Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree, Sr. also revealed charges are filed against four law enforcement officers in two separate cases.
One of the cases involved a hit and run crash on I-70 near I-435 on December 13, 2019.
Charles and Regina Breitenbach recall talking to each other as they drove home that night around 10:50 p.m.
“He came on us out of the blue,” Charles Breitenbach said about the rear end crash.
The couple pulled over to assess the damage and make sure everyone was okay. That’s when they say they saw the driver who hit them speed away. The couple feels fortunate a witness saw the crash.
The witness told the couple they were following the driver and reported him because they noticed erratic and dangerous driving.
“She told us, ‘we called it in multiple times’ that was before he hit us,” Regina Breitenbach said. “They said, ‘we weren’t going to let him get away’ and they followed him all the way home.”
Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office investigator Michael Demile Simmons, Jr. is charged with leaving the scene of the accident. Investigators say he was driving a Wyandotte County vehicle at the time of the hit and run crash.
Former Kansas City, KS., police officer Sarah Panjada and Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office Major Andrew Carver are charged with official misconduct and interference with law enforcement. They are accused of interfering with the investigation into the hit and run crash.
According to a Kansas Highway Patrol crash report, Simmons was “eventually located and placed under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene.”
Dupree says it’s possible more charges could have been filed. KCTV5 News asked if Simmons was allegedly impaired at the time of the crash. “If the investigation would not have been obstructed then I think we may have had evidence to potentially show that, but we don't have that evidence.”
A spokesperson for the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s office said there will be an internal investigation.
A spokesperson for the Kansas City Kansas police department police said, “on February 22, 2020 Sarah Panjada left the employment of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department to pursue other opportunities.”
“You think they are there to protect you and you find out they are the ones who hit you and he didn’t even stop to see if we were okay,” Regina Breitenbach said. “He had no idea if we were okay or not.”
In a separate case, Kansas City, KS police officer Travis Toms was charged with buying sexual relations.
According to the district attorney, Toms is accused of committing the crime in November of 2020 while on duty and while in uniform.
The KCKPD's full statement:
"The Kansas City Kansas Police Department Internal Affairs Division initiated an investigation regarding Officer Toms on November 18, 2020. On December 15, 2020, the Department placed him on administrative leave. Upon completion of a thorough investigation, Internal Affairs Detectives presented the case to Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office on January 7th. 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. All complaints whether received internally or from the public will continue to be investigated thoroughly and efficiently.”
“Regardless of who you are, what position you hold or what title you hold that no one is above the law, and all of us should be held accountable,” Dupree said.
Wyandotte County community members can report complaints to the Community Integrity unit by calling 913-573-8100.