Kauai Police Officer Irvin Magayanes was arrested yesterday on one count of negligent homicide in the second degree for the traffic death of Michael Sheehan Kocher Jr. last January.
Kocher, 19, reportedly was walking on Kaumualii Highway near Kaumakani when he was hit by a car at about 9:35 p.m. on Jan. 3, 2015. He was lying in the road, but alive, when a police car driven by Magayanes reportedly struck him again while responding to the call for help. Kauai police conducted an investigation and forwarded the results to Kauai Prosecutor Justin Kollar's office.
Kollar's office found probable cause that the serious injuries allegedly caused by Magayanes proved fatal to Kocher, a Hanapepe resident. They secured an arrest warrant that was signed by Judge Trudy Senda.
Magayanes was booked, with bail set by the court at $1,000. Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry said he removed Magayanes' police powers and assigned him to administrative duties pending the outcome of his trial. He has been with KPD for two years and had no disciplinary actions or complaints against him.
Kocher's family had expressed dismay that months elapsed without knowing what was going on. Perry said he sympathized with the family; however, the investigation was complex and time-consuming.
"The events of this tragic traffic collision, which led to the untimely death of Michael Kocher, Jr., lies heavily on the hearts of all KPD employees, and we extend our deepest sympathy to the Kocher ‘ohana," Perry said in a written statement.
“Our hearts also go out to Officer Magayanes, whose every intention that night was to assist in an emergency.
“I am confident that our department conducted a thorough and objective investigation, as we do with all of our cases, regardless of those involved."
Kudos to Justin for moving ahead, even though it isn't easy to pursue charges against a police officer, especially in a case like this. But it was only right, especially since the OPA has been aggressively prosecuting motor vehicle accidents that result in injuries and death.
Magayanes is the second KPD officer to face criminal charges this year. Sgt. Colin Nesbitt was charged with driving under the influence after he crashed his truck while off-duty. The Kauai OPA has referred that case to the state Attorney General to avoid any conflict of interest.