Man sentenced for 2017 robbery that left Independence officer shot by ‘friendly fire’

A Kansas City man who pleaded guilty earlier this summer to charges stemming from a robbery where a Independence police officer was shot has been sentenced to 18 years in prison, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office announced in a news release.

The sentencing hearing was held Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court for 54-year-old Donald E. Nussbaum, who pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and armed criminal action in connection to the March 29, 2017 incident.

Nussbaum was one of four men charged in the case.

Prosecutors alleged that Nussbaum and another defendant, James McChan, drove two other men to a home in the 3600 block of South Delaware Avenue, where an 82-year-old victim was beaten, restrained and held at gunpoint while his home was ransacked.

A friend of the victim called police as the robbery was occurring.

As officers arrived, two of the suspects — later identified as Ronar Santiago-Torres and Joseph E. Wyatt — took the victim’s vehicle and fled the scene, crashing through the closed garage door, court records said.

Officer Thomas Wagstaff was one the Independence police officers who responded to the home. Wagstaff survived a gunshot wound to the head, which authorities later said was from “friendly fire.”

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.

From left: Ronar Santiago-Torres, Joseph E. Wyatt, Donald Nussbaum and James McChan

A Jackson County judge sentenced Nussbaum on Tuesday to 18 years in prison on the robbery conviction and 18 years on the armed criminal action conviction. The sentences are set to run concurrently.

Two other defendants, Santiago-Torres and Wyatt, have been convicted and sentenced in the case.

The final defendant, McChan, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 25 after pleading guilty in February to to first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and armed criminal action.


How we did this story

A sentencing hearing was held Sept. 17 in Jackson County Circuit Court for the defendant, Donald E. Nussbaum. The prosecutor’s office issued a news release after the hearing, saying a judge ordered Nussbaum to serve 18 years in prison on each conviction. The sentences are set to run concurrently.

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Kaitlyn Schwers covers breaking news and crime at night for The Kansas City Star. Originally from Willard, Mo., she spent nearly three years reporting in Arkansas and Illinois before returning to Missouri and joining The Star in 2017.