Crime

Deputy’s death prompts manslaughter charge in Johnson County

Johnson County sheriff speaks about Master Deputy Brandon Collins

Overland Park police investigated the scene Sunday where a Johnson County Sheriff’s Master Deputy Brandon Collins was killed on U.S. 69 near West 143rd Street. Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning commented about Collins.
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Overland Park police investigated the scene Sunday where a Johnson County Sheriff’s Master Deputy Brandon Collins was killed on U.S. 69 near West 143rd Street. Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning commented about Collins.

A 38-year-old Kansas City, Kan., man was charged Monday with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a Johnson County sheriff’s deputy.

Adrian Espinosa-Flores allegedly was driving under the influence when his pickup truck crashed into a patrol car making a traffic stop about 1:30 a.m. Sunday on northbound U.S. 69 near West 143rd Street.

Master Deputy Brandon Collins, 45, was killed. His patrol car was engulfed in flames.

Authorities said Espinosa-Flores ran from the scene but was found by police dogs. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries.

A judge set bond for Espinosa-Flores at $2 million. His first court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in Johnson County District Court.

Overland Park police, who are investigating the crash, have asked anyone who saw the truck before the wreck to call 913-895-6412 or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477. The pickup was a blue 2005 Ford F-250 with a crew cab.

Collins would have celebrated his 21st anniversary with the department next month. He was married and had two daughters.

On Monday, his family released this statement:

“We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support and the many heartfelt thoughts and prayers our family has received since our tragic loss. Brandon was a devoted and caring husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. Brandon’s love and compassion for his family, friends, and the community he served will never be forgotten.”

Visitation is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at College Church of the Nazarene, 2020 E. Sheridan St. in Olathe. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at the church.

Statistically, auto-related incidents account for a large portion of law enforcement deaths. By some measures, such incidents kill more officers than guns.

Since the beginning of last year, of 215 officers killed across the country by various causes, 82 died in wrecks, vehicular assaults, pursuits and from being struck by vehicles, compared with 81 killed by gunfire, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a website that tracks law enforcement deaths.

Collins was the only vehicle-related officer death in Kansas in that time, while the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department has lost two officers to shootings.

Local and state law enforcement know through bitter experience the dangers of traffic stops, said Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Stephen La Row.

“Unfortunately, we have lost troopers in the line of duty,” La Row said. “We have had to learn from those lessons.”

One of the biggest hazards comes from other vehicles on the road. Officers and troopers try to manage that by choosing safe places to make stops and maneuvering themselves and the other driver out of harm’s way as much as possible.

But there is no way to absolutely prevent an errant vehicle from hitting them by the side of the road, La Row said.

“We, as drivers, put a lot of trust in others to do the right thing.”

Ian Cummings contributed to this report.

Donald Bradley: 816-234-4182

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