Crime

Man pleads guilty in home invasion that left Independence police officer shot in head

A 54-year-old man has admitted his role in a 2017 home invasion and robbery where an Independence police officer was shot in the head, according to court records.

Donald E. Nussbaum, of Kansas City, was scheduled to stand trial this week in Jackson County Circuit Court but pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and armed criminal action for his involvement in the March 29, 2017 incident.

Officer Thomas Wagstaff was one the Independence police officers who responded to the 3600 block of South Delaware Avenue on the burglary call. Wagstaff survived a gunshot wound to the head, which authorities later said was from “friendly fire.”

Nussbaum was one of four men charged in the incident, accused of taking part in the robbery that drew police to the scene.

Two of the suspects, Joseph E. Wyatt and Ronar Santiago-Torres, forced their way into a home, tied up the 82-year-old victim, and beat him while trying to get into a safe, according to prosecutors.

Police were summoned to the residence while the robbery was in progress.

The men fled in the victim’s car by crashing through the closed garage door as shots were fired, injuring Wagstaff.

Wyatt, Santiago-Torres, Nussbaum and James McChan each faced criminal charges.

Nussbaum admitted that he drove the other men to the victim’s house with the intent to rob him. Nussbaum was the son of the robbery victim’s girlfriend and knew about the plans to tie up the victim and get the combination to a safe, according to court records.

Wyatt was sentenced to 40 years in prison after he was found guilty of multiple charges including robbery and kidnapping.

In February, McChan pleaded guilty to robbery, burglary and armed criminal action. He is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

Santiago-Torres is scheduled to stand trial on Sept. 16.

Wagstaff underwent months of rehabilitation and later medically retired from law enforcement as a result of his injuries.

Nussbaum is scheduled to sentenced on Sept. 23, according to court records.

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Glenn E. Rice covers crime, courts and breaking news for The Kansas City Star, where he’s worked since 1988. Rice is a Kansas City native and a graduate of the University of Central Missouri.
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