For Immediate Release
Independence Man Sentenced for Illegal Firearm
Fled From Officers Several Times on a Four-Wheeler
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – An Independence, Missouri man who fled from law enforcement officers several times on a four-wheeler was sentenced in federal court today for illegally possessing a firearm.
Cody R. Wilkins, 29, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes to eight years in federal prison without parole.
On Oct. 22, 2020, Wilkins pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to court documents, Wilkins was identified as a drug dealer in February 2019 and law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at his residence. Officers found a stolen, loaded Springfield Armory handgun, marijuana, pills, pipes, and methamphetamine in his bedroom.
After he was indicted by the federal grand jury in this case, law enforcement officers made several attempts to arrest Wilkins on the existing warrant. In each attempt, according to court documents, Wilkins fled in a dangerous manner.
On Sept. 19, 2019, after officers attempted to arrest him, he failed to stop the four-wheeler he was driving and fled at a high rate of speed off a roadway and down a walking path. Officers used a drone to follow him, but even the drone could not keep up with Wilkins given the speed he was traveling. On Sept. 23, 2019, officers again attempted to arrest Wilkins while he was a passenger in a truck. Instead of stopping, the vehicle fled the scene and the pursuit was terminated due to safety concerns. Later that day, Wilkins was spotted driving the four-wheeler and officers again attempted to stop him, but he fled. Wilkins eluded capture by traveling at a high rate of speed on public streets and through a city park.
On Sept. 27, 2019, officers again attempted to stop Wilkins while he was on the four-wheeler. A law enforcement helicopter assisted the officers on the ground as they attempted to locate him. During the pursuit, Wilkins refused to stop and continued fleeing, driving at a high rate of speed into opposing lanes of traffic. He entered a cemetery, where he lost control of the four-wheeler and was thrown from it. Wilkins then fled on foot and entered a nearby apartment building, where he broke into an occupied unit. The residents notified law enforcement that Wilkins had broken into their apartment. Officers responded to the unit and Wilkins attempted to close the door to prevent officers from arresting him, however, officers were able to enter the apartment and arrest Wilkins. During the pursuit, a local high school in the area had to be placed on lockdown for safety concerns.
Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Wilkins has a significant criminal history. Wilkins was arrested 32 different times between 2011 and 2019, which resulted in five felony convictions and 14 misdemeanor convictions. Wilkins’s felony convictions include tampering with a motor vehicle, two convictions for possession of a controlled substance, and two convictions for aggravated stalking. In the aggravating stalking cases, he threatened law enforcement officers’ lives on multiple occasions. Wilkins’s misdemeanor convictions include domestic assault, resisting arrest, traffic violations, possession of a controlled substance, careless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident. The misdemeanor domestic assault conviction resulted from a violent attack on his girlfriend where he grabbed, struck, and threw her down multiple times.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Moeder. It was investigated by the Independence, Mo., Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, and local law enforcement to specifically identify criminals responsible for significant violent crime in the Western District of Missouri. A centerpiece of this effort is Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods is an evidence-based program that identifies the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develops comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, Project Safe Neighborhoods focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.