LIHUE — A Kauai Police Department officer has been charged in the death of a pedestrian he hit while responding to the scene of an accident.
Officer Irvin Magayanes was arrested Thursday and charged with one count of second degree negligent homicide, which is a Class C felony. Magayanes was released after posting a $1,000 bail, and is not considered a flight risk.
The charge comes more than seven months after 19-year-old Michael Kocher Jr. was struck by a car while walking on the roadway of Kaumualii Highway after sunset. Kocher, of Hanapepe, survived the first hit on Jan. 3 with injuries that were not life-threatening, but he was then run over by the responding officer, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation. The cause of death is believed to be due to the second vehicle strike.
If convicted, Magayanes faces penalties of up to five years in prison. He is due to appear in 5th Circuit Court on the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 25.
Mike Kocher, Michael’s father, told The Garden Island on Friday that he feels for the officer.
“I feel really bad for the little boy. He was 23-years-old and he’s in a really (expletive) predicament,” he said. “Unfortunately… I’m in a (expletive) predicament too.”
“I just wish they (KPD) would have said there was a mechanical difficulty in the car. Then there would be no hard feelings.” Kocher said.
Kauai County Prosecutor Justin Kollar said that he could not comment on the specific details of the case, but that the charge is supported by the evidence. The decision to charge the officer was based on, “the totality of the circumstances as supported by the investigation from the police,” Kollar said.
There have been no allegations that Magayanes was under the influence of any alcohol or drugs when the incident occurred.
Kocher family attorney Aaron Creps, of the Oahu-based law firm Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner, said that he received a copy of the complete police report on Friday, which he said is about 1,000 pages long.
“It’s gratifying that the prosecutor’s office has recognized the criminal aspect of what occurred,” Creps said. “I think the family is looking forward to the officer receiving the appropriate criminal punishment.”
He said there weren’t mechanical issues with the car, but that excessive speed was a factor in the accident.
The driver of the Toyota Corolla who first hit Kocher has not been accused of wrongdoing.
“We haven’t filed any charges against him, and we don’t believe he committed any crime that evening,” Kollar said.
On Friday, KPD Police Chief Darryl Perry issued a written statement to address the arrest.
“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. “Our hearts also go out to Officer Magayanes, whose every intention that night was to assist in an emergency.”
Magayanes joined the KPD in 2013 and has been on the force for more than two years.
On Thursday, his police powers were revoked. Magayanes had previously been assigned to administrative duties during the investigation and will continue to work as a civilian for KPD pending the result of court proceedings.