An outpouring of support for Independence police after the line of duty death of Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans

Mike Gene and Jeff Fox
The Examiner USA TODAY NETWORK

The Independence Police Department has experienced an outpouring of community support in the days following the fatal shooting of Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans in the line of duty this week. 

Supporters started placing flowers Thursday morning in front of the memorial pillar at police headquarters, and the collection grew before a citizen-driven candlelight vigil Thursday night attended by a few hundred people at the building on Memorial Drive. 

Flowers, candles, blue ribbons and flags were placed around the memorial to fallen officers at Independence Police Department headquarters. Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Thursday evening after the death on Wednesday of Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans.

“I really do appreciate the community's support for this family,” Heather Parsons of Independence, who helped organize the vigil, told those in attendance. 

Many law-enforcement agencies were represented as well, and she had a message for officers. 

“I want you guys to know – we have your six.” 

Julia Possehl of Grain Valley got word out on social media about the vigil. Her brother-in-law is an IPD officer. 

“For him, this is very close to home,” she said. 

Parsons and Possehl both said it was good to see a large turnout. 

“This warms my heart,” Possehl said. 

Madrid-Evans, 22, had previously worked as an EMT with American Medical Response, graduated from the Kansas City Regional Police Academy July 8 and had started field training with IPD a couple of weeks ago.  

Madrid-Evans and another officer were dispatched to a home on Northern Boulevard just south of 23rd Street around 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. 

Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans

A man there – identified by the Highway Patrol as Cody L. Harrison, 33, of Gladstone, a convicted felon wanted for a parole violation – fired at them with a handgun. The second officer shot Harrison, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Madrid-Evans was rushed to a hospital, where he later died. 

The Independence Police Foundation, a non-profit organization started this year by former Chief Gary George, is collecting donations to aid Madrid-Evans' family with expenses, with a goal of $10,000. People can donate online at www.ipdfoundation.org/support. 

“Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans made the ultimate sacrifice to serve and protect our community. At just 22, he was beginning his career in law enforcement and had a lifetime ahead of him that was tragically cut short in the line of duty,” the foundation posted on social media. “Our hearts are heavy and we are deeply sorry for his family, friends and our IPD brothers and sisters in blue.” 

The Price Chopper grocery chain also announced it will collect donations at each location through Sept. 24 in memory of Madrid-Evans,. 

The suspect, Cody Harrison

Independence Chief of Police Brad Halsey said Thursday the call officers responded to had been for a residence check of a wanted subject. The Highway Patrol is leading the investigation of the incident, because it involved an officer shooting. Sgt. Andy Bell of the Highway Patrol said investigators are particularly curious about the tip that led dispatch and police to believe a wanted person was possibly at the home. 

The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office said Thursday it had issued a warrant Monday for Harrison's arrest after he failed to appear for a hearing.  

Harrison faced charges from November of second-degree burglary and stealing in Grain Valley. He had been released on his own recognizance after the court reduced it from a $6,000/10 percent bond (prosecutors had asked for $10,000). 

According to court documents, Harrison allegedly stole a safe with $300, two sets of truck keys, a steel dolly and $1,000 cash from a moving company with which he'd previously worked. The company owner told Grain Valley police he was “1,000 percent, not 100 percent” sure the burglar was Harrison after viewing video surveillance. The owner noted distinctive hair, shoes and mannerisms, how he maneuvered the dolly with ease, knew where the light switch was in the dark and knew exactly where to find the drop box and safe without looking around. 

In October 2011, court records show, Harrison pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a weapon (shooting at or from a motor vehicle) in Clay County and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The prosecutor’s office said Harrison was on parole from that conviction. 

Kansas City police had also submitted a case Sept. 7 to the prosecutor’s office. Five days earlier, Harrison allegedly was carrying a gun, which he was prohibited to do as a convicted felon. The prosecutor’s office said it had that case under review for charges. 

Addressing gun violence

On Friday, the prosecutor’s office and Kansas City police issued a statement. 

“When faced with a tragedy like this we are called upon to improve ways to intervene and prevent senseless gun violence in our community,” the statement reads. 

“The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office and the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department are equally committed to reducing violent crime. Both agencies understand a Felon in Possession of a Firearm can be a precursor to violence. Today both agencies jointly agreed to examine opportunities to work together to ensure all dangerous offenders are appropriately addressed.” 

“Jail capacity, recent legislative changes and societal attitudes make addressing gun possession and violence increasingly difficult. That said, our agencies will seek greater communication among all criminal justice partners to share information regarding those who pose potential threats of violence and use all our collective leverage to address those situations.”