DA announces charges against former law enforcement officers

Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark A. Dupree Sr. announced misdemeanor charges against former law enforcement officers on Wednesday.

Dupree said three individuals were charged in connection with one case. Another was charged in connection with a separate case.

One case involved a hit-and-run case on I-70 on Dec. 14, 2019, according to Dupree.

A Unified Government vehicle assigned to the Sheriff’s Department was involved in the case, he said. In that case, there was an effort to withhold information about the location and identity of the driver, he said.

Michael D. Simmons Jr., formerly an investigator with the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Department, was charged with leaving the scene of a crash, a misdemeanor which is punishable by up to a year in the county jail and a fine, he said. Simmons had been with the Sheriff’s Department since 2008.

Sarah Panjada, a former detective with the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department, was charged with one count of official misconduct, which is a misdemeanor offense, and interference, a misdemeanor, he said.

Andrew Carver, a major in the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office, was charged with one count of official misconduct, a misdemeanor, and one count of interference, a misdemeanor, he said.

Official misconduct includes knowingly destroying, tampering or concealing evidence of a crime and is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, he said. If convicted, employees or public officials would forfeit their office or employment, he said.

Interference is knowingly obstructing or interfering to serve process or attempt to serve a warrant, writ, process, or order of a court, in the discharge of official duty, he said.

All the charges stemmed from the incident that occurred on I-70 in December 2019, according to Dupree. The interference charges were dated June 19, 2020.

Dupree said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation handled the cases. Court dates for the three will be in February.

In a separate case, Dupree charged former Officer Travis Toms, employed with the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department since 2010, with buying sexual relations, a misdemeanor.

The incident allegedly occurred Nov. 16, 2020, while he was on duty, he said.

Those who are found guilty of the crime may be punished by up to one year in the county jail and a fine.

Dupree said this was not a sting, but an investigation that was conducted by internal affairs of the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department.

Dupree said there are law enforcement officers throughout Wyandotte County who uphold their oaths to serve and protect, but there are a few who behave in ways that tarnish the trust of the community.

The charges announced Wednesday were not investigated by the community integrity unit of the district attorney’s office, he said. Future cases are expected to be investigated by the CIU, as that unit is now up and running, he added.

He encouraged community members with any complaints about law enforcement in Wyandotte County to call his office’s community integrity unit at 913-573-8100.

The Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department released a statement in response to charges filed by Dupree.

The police statement said that Panjada left the employment of the police department on Feb. 22, 2020, to pursue other opportunities.

Also, the police statement said that the internal affairs division began the investigation into the actions of Officer Toms on Nov. 18.

On Dec. 15, the police department placed Toms on administrative leave. After a thorough investigation, internal affairs detectives presented the case to the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office on Jan. 7 for prosecution, according to the police statement.

“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,” the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department stated.

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