Police Officer Michael J. Katherman
San Jose Police Department, California
End of Watch: Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Tour of Duty: 11 years
Badge Number: 3900
Cause of Death: Motorcycle accident
Date of Incident: June 14, 2016
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available
Agency Contact Information
Chief of Police Eddie Garcia
San Jose Police Department
201 West Mission Street
San Jose, CA 95110
Phone: (408) 277-8900
Police Officer Michael Katherman was killed in a motorcycle crash at the intersection of North 10th Street and Horning Street at approximately 4:20 pm.
He was on patrol in the area when another vehicle attempted to turn left in front of him, causing the collision. Witnesses to the crash performed CPR on Officer Katherman and used his radio to call for assistance. He was transported to Regional Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries.
Officer Katherman had served with the San Jose Police Department for 11 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.
SAN JOSE — A police department and community are in mourning after a veteran San Jose police motorcycle officer was killed in a collision Tuesday afternoon while riding in an industrial area in North San Jose, police Chief Eddie Garcia said.
"It is with great sadness that I inform you all that this community has lost an officer in the line of duty," Garcia said.
The officer who died has been identified as Michael J. Katherman, 34, a resident of San Benito County. He is the 13th officer in the history of the San Jose Police Department to lose his life in the line of duty, a year after the department laid to rest the 12th, Officer Michael Johnson, who was fatally shot in March 2015.
Katherman, who was with SJPD for 11 years, is also the second motorcycle officer in department history killed on duty; Officer Robert Wirht died Sept. 8, 1988, when he was hit by a vehicle while pursuing a speeding motorist.
"The San Jose Police Department is mourning, the community is mourning, but we will strive to live up to Officer Katherman’s sacrifice," Garcia said during a Tuesday night news conference.
Katherman was on patrol riding a department-issued motorcycle northbound on 10th Street around 4:22 p.m. when it collided with a southbound silver minivan turning left onto Horning Street, Garcia said. Katherman was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Scores of officers went to Regional Medical Center of San Jose to hold vigil for their fallen colleague.
The man driving the minivan stayed at the scene after the crash and cooperated with investigators, police said. The exact circumstances were still under investigation. Drugs or alcohol use are not suspected of the driver, who is not in custody.
The site of the crash is in an industrial area marked by roughly paved streets with overlaid train tracks that create a hazardous crossing from 10th Street to Horning Street. In the aftermath of the collision, the police motorcycle could be seen on its side approximately 250 feet from the collision site. The crash marks the city’s 19th traffic death of the year.
A person who witnessed the crash rushed to the officer’s aid and used Katherman’s police radio to call for help, Garcia said.
Katherman, an alum of Valley Christian High School in San Jose, was married with two school-age sons. Garcia noted that Katherman, a seasoned rider, thrived in his role as a motorcycle officer.
"He loved his job, he loved his family," Garcia said. "He put his uniform on, went to go to work, wanted to see his family when he got off, and he didn’t make it."
San Jose City Council members had just wrapped up their regular afternoon session when the collision occurred and were called into an emergency closed session. When they emerged, Mayor Sam Liccardo announced that they had "learned some troubling information" and that the evening meeting would be canceled. He asked everyone to leave immediately.
Garcia said that both Katherman’s family and his broader police family are united in grief, and will support each other as they cope with the department’s second officer death in as many years.
"It’s a rough time for us. Our officers are standing together, taking care of each other. Right now it’s a time for officers to reflect on the job they do, why they do it, and think of Mike’s sacrifice and what he did for this community, and try to live up to that sacrifice," Garcia said. "He gave his life to his community doing a job that he loved."