San Jose motorcycle officer dies in crash while on duty

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The San Jose Police Department is in mourning, after the death of one of its officers.

34-year-old motorcycle officer Michael Katherman, was an 11-year veteran, husband and father of two sons.

He was riding his motorcycle in full uniform on duty Tuesday afternoon, when he collided with a silver minivan.

Sgt. Paul Kelly, President of the San Jose Police Officer’s Association, said Katherman cared deeply for his family. 

“Mike was someone his family and the police department could absolutely count on,” Kelly said.

Kelly said Katherman volunteered his time a member of the Chaplaincy program and the Keith Kelley Club, an organization that helps officers and their families in times of need. 

Most recently, Katherman participated in the 2016 Police Unity Tour, which remembers all fallen officers. Katherman recorded video of the ride from New Jersey to Washington D.C. that ended at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

Troy Young, President of the NorCal Police Unity Tour chapter, said it was Katherman’s first year riding the tour. He was there to honor his friend Michael Johnson, a San Jose Police Officer who died in the line of duty in 2015.

“We all ride in honor of someone from the previous year and he happened to be honoring Michael Johnson as well as all the other names that are on that wall and all the other officers who have lost their life,” Young said.

Young said Katherman’s name will now be etched in the same memorial.

“Unfortunately we’ll be going back next year and we’ll be putting his name on the wall,” Young said. “We never want to forget the sacrifice he made. We always want to honor that sacrifice.”

Tuesday's crash happened at around 4:22 p.m.. on North 10th Street , near the intersection of Horning Street.

At a late night news conference, San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said the officer was heading north on North 10th Street, and the minivan driver was heading southbound on the same street. The driver attempted to make a left turn onto Horning Street, when the crash happened.

Garcia said a witness stopped to assist the fallen officer and used the officer's police radio to call for help. Officers and paramedics then arrived on the scene.

Officer Katherman was taken to Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The driver of the minivan stayed on the scene and cooperated with police. Chief Garcia said Tuesday night that the man was not in custody and it did not appear that drugs or alcohol played a factor in the crash.

Tuesday's San Jose City Council meeting was canceled due to the officer's accident.

Fellow officers gathered at the hospital comforting each other, and held a makeshift vigil for Katherman.

After his death, they took part in a procession leaving the hospital.

On the San Jose Police Department's Twitter page, this message was posted, "Today we lost a brother officer.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Michael's family and friends. Rest in peace Officer Katherman."

Mayor Sam Liccardo released the following statement late Tuesday night:

“Heroes lift us all through their sacrifice, compelling us to be our best through their example. Mike Katherman was that hero, performing his noble duty to serve and protect until his last moments. I ask our residents to join in sending our prayers and thoughts to Mike’s wife, his sons, his family and friends, and the entire SJPD family during this time of grief.” 

Funeral arrangements for Katherman are pending. His body will likely be taken from the coroner’s office to a funeral home on Thursday in a formal procession.