CLAY, MO. (KCTV) — Family, friends and dozens of law enforcement officials filled a Clay County courtroom Thursday as his suspected killer appeared before a judge for arraignment.
Police escorted Joshua T. Rocha to a hearing on charges of handcuffing fallen officer Daniel Vazquez. Rocha is charged with first-degree murder and armed crime in connection with Vasquez’ death on July 19. Vasquez was shot during a traffic stop for an expired timestamp near 21st Street and Clay in North Kansas City.
Law enforcement officers from across the metro stood shoulder to shoulder throughout the entire arraignment to support the Vasquez family.
“First and foremost, we were here for the family,” Kansas City, Missouri Police Department Deputy Bureau of Investigation Chief Mike Wood said Thursday. “If it doesn’t upset you as a member of this community, you are heartless, you are not human. Because it’s pointless. This should not have happened and should not have happened.
Rocha did not speak during the arraignment. The judge pleaded not guilty on his behalf because Roshi doesn’t have a lawyer yet. He will be represented by a public defender.
The impact of Officer Vasquez’s death — the first death in the line of duty in the history of the North Kansas City Police Department — was made clear during Wednesday night’s candlelight vigil for Vasquez and his family. A large crowd of community members filled the police station’s parking lot.
“I know he’s in heaven looking at us with that big goofy smile,” Vasquez’s sister, Areli Vasquez, said. “I know that Daniel loved this community and any community he served. I don’t know how we’re going to get through this.”
Several friends and colleagues spoke of Vasquez’s ability to befriend just about anyone.
“He was our Daniel,” Wanda Filger said. “I would say, ‘I’m worried about you.’ He said: “Mi-Mou, I’ll cover Katy. I’ll cover Katy. I just wish we had it. Without him, our lives will never be the same.”
Police say Rocha turned himself in and confessed to killing Vasquez. Rocha is on $2 million bail.
“Justice will be served. I feel confident about that,” Deputy Chief Wood said. “He’s where he needs to be, in my opinion, and the system will work.”
If convicted of first-degree murder, Rocha could be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without parole. Rocha is expected to reappear in court on July 28 for a bail hearing.
Vazquez’s funeral information was announced on Thursday. There will be a public visit at Vineyard Church at 12300 NW Arrowhead Trafficway on Tuesday, July 26 from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The memorial service will take place on Wednesday, July 27, at 9 am at the Vineyard Church.
If you are attending a public visit on Tuesday, July 26 or a funeral on Wednesday, July 27, you must enter from US 169 South.
If members of the community wish to show support for the Vasquez family and the North Kansas City Police Department but are unable to attend the service, there will be a procession immediately following the memorial service on Wednesday, July 27. The procession will leave Vineyard Church at 12300 NW Arrowhead Trafficway in KCMO and follow US 169 south to MO 9 South, Armor Road, I-29/35 North, Antioch North, 64th Street E., to White Memorial Gardens Chapel.
Parking will be limited along Armor Road. However, side street parking will be allowed. A city spokesman says viewing along Armor Road is welcome.
City officials say members of the public should expect traffic delays if they travel to event venues and along the route of Wednesday, July 27.
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