Still seeking answers

HANAPEPE — More than seven months after his son was killed after being struck by a car and then hit again by a responding police officer, the father is still seeking answers. 

Mike Kocher, of Hanapepe, whose son 19-year-old Michael Kocher, Jr. was killed Jan. 5, said he’s frustrated that the family has been left in the dark on what happened the night his son died.

“They haven’t given us any information,” Kocher said Tuesday, a day after The Garden Island ran a story about how results from the police investigation are still pending. “The police have not given me information of any sort.”

Michael Kocher, Jr. of Hanapepe was walking on the roadway on Kaumualii Highway just east of the Kaumakani Post Office when he was struck by a Toyota Corolla, according to reports. Kocher was then hit by a police officer who was responding to the scene to provide assistance.

Kocher said his family has been informed by witnesses that his son was still alive when he was struck a second time.

“I’m still going through this. I’ll be going through this my whole life,” the father said, adding that healing through the grieving process has been slow.

The county said results of the investigation will not be made public until the prosecuting attorney has determined whether to charge anyone involved with a crime. The name of the officer hasn’t been released, but the county said he has been assigned to administrative duties as the process unfolds.

The Kocher’s family attorney Aaron Creps, of the Oahu-based law firm Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner, said police are treating the hits as two separate incidents.

“There are witnesses who say Michael was alive and conscious and talking before he was run over by the officer, and all evidence that we have indicates that the injuries Michael sustained in the first collision were not life threatening, and that he was killed as a result of being run over by the officer,” Creps said.

Mike Kocher wants to understand the circumstances of what happened that night, and is angry that answers have been few and slow coming.

“Be honest. Tell me the truth. Tell me something. That’s all my wife and I are asking,” Kocher said. “I need to know.”

On Tuesday, KPD Police Chief Darryl Perry offered condolences.

“We can certainly understand the frustration felt by family members who aren’t able to get all the answers they deserve while cases are being investigated. As is the case with all criminal investigations, we can’t risk releasing information that might inadvertently impede the criminal justice process,” Perry said. “We certainly don’t intend for that to be seen as a lack of care or concern, and if that is how we’ve come across to the Kocher family, we sincerely apologize. Our hearts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy, most especially the Kocher family.”

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