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Settlement likely in civil suit

LIHUE — A tentative settlement has been reached in a civil lawsuit filed against the Kauai County Police Department by the family of a 19-year-old Hanapepe man killed by a speeding police cruiser, according to court documents and a county spokesperson.

The lawsuit was filed in Hawaii’s First Circuit Court in 2016 by relatives of Michael Kocher, who died from injuries he sustained when a patrol car driven by Kauai Police Officer Irvin Magayanes hit him on Kaumualii Highway in January 2015.

On the night of the incident, Kocher had been struck by another vehicle and was lying in the road, suffering from non-life threatening injuries. Magayanes was the first officer to respond to the scene and failed to see Kocher in time to stop or avoid hitting him, according to reports.

The GPS on Magayanes car showed he was driving close to 75 mph when he struck Kocher — 25 mph over the legal speed limit, reports said.

Magayanes was acquitted of criminal charges last year when a jury found him not guilty of negligent manslaughter and has since returned to his position with the department. But a year before that verdict was handed down, the Kocher family filed a civil claim against the Kauai Police Department.

Now — nearly four years after his death — Kocher’s family stands to receive some financial compensation.

At a Nov. 20 meeting between legal representatives for both parties in Hawaii’s First Circuit Court, the Kauai Police Department’s attorney stated that a settlement had been reached, and the lawyer representing the Kocher family said documents should be finalized “in a few weeks,” according to court minutes of the meeting.

Neither attorney could be contacted for further comment.

A county public information official confirmed Friday that a preliminary settlement had been reached and said the county is “waiting on final signatures to execute the agreement” but could not release details regarding the amount of the settlement.

The Kauai County Council last month approved a request by the First Deputy County Attorney, requesting authorization to “expend additional funds up to $200,000 from the Claims and Judgments account,” specifically for the litigation of the Kocher family’s civil claim against the police department.

A county spokesperson declined to comment on whether that total is in any way related to the amount of the settlement.
Source: The Garden Island

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