Investigation findings should be released soon

Mike Kocher wants some closure. The Hanapepe man wants to know all he can about what happened to his son on Jan. 5, the night he died. It’s not an unreasonable request and the Kauai Police Department and the county Prosecutor’s Office should do all it can to provide that information within a reasonable amount of time.

Here’s what we know: Michael Kocher, Jr., 19, was walking on Kaumualii Highway around 9:35 p.m., when he was struck by an eastbound Toyota Corolla, and then again by a responding police vehicle just east of the Kaumakani Post Office. It’s not entirely clear if Kocher was still alive when he was struck by the police car. Some witnesses have, according to the Kocher’s family attorney, said he was. As with such cases as this one, rumors are flying around on the coconut wireless. Let’s steer clear of rumors.

Police said their investigation is complete. That’s good. But the more time it takes to release a report, the more the rumors of cover up and that someone is trying to hide something continue to spread.

Certainly, no one wants the police or the prosecutor to rush to judgment and hurry to get a report to the public. 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.

But after seven months, it does lead one to wonder what more information there is to consider. All witnesses have been interviewed, the drivers of both the Corolla and the police cruiser, too. A thorough investigation was expected and was completed. What wasn’t expected, is that seven months later, not even Michael Kocher’s parents have been told the findings of that investigation. They are still left to wonder what happened.

Kocher on Tuesday told The Garden Island police haven’t given him “information of any sort.”

He deserves to know more about that night he lost his son.

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

Police are doing their best, said Chief Darryl Perry, and we have no reason to doubt him.

“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.”

We hope answers will come shortly. Meantime, we hope Michael Kocher’s parents find some comfort in knowing their son was a blessing to not just their lives, but many others, too.


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