Veteran San Jose Police Officer Dies in Motorcycle Crash

A San Jose policeman died in a motorcycle crash Tuesday while on patrol in north San Jose, officials said.

Eleven-year San Jose Police Department veteran Michael Katherman, a 34-year-old San Benito County resident, became the 13th officer in the city’s history to die in the line of duty. Last year, Officer Michael Johnson became the 12th when a suicidal gunman shot him to death during a standoff.

“It’s with great sadness that I inform you all that this community has lost an officer in the line of duty,” SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia told reporters outside the police station Tuesday night. Katherman, in full uniform, was riding his police motorcycle northbound on North 10th Street when a silver minivan heading the opposite way struck him while making a left onto Horning Street.

Officer Mike Katherman

Officer Mike Katherman

A bystander ran to Katherman’s side and used the police radio to call for help, according to SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia.

Paramedics showed up minutes later and rushed the wounded officer to the nearest hospital, San Jose Regional Medical Center, where he died a short time later.

The man driving the minivan stayed at the scene and cooperated with investigators. Drugs and alcohol don’t appear to have played a role the collision, which took place in an industrial part of San Jose.

Katherman left behind a wife and two school-aged children.

“He put his uniform on, left to go to work and wanted to see his family when he got off,” Garcia said. “And he didn’t make it.”

When Mayor Sam Liccardo heard the news, he called off the rest of Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Just last month, Katherman was one of two San Jose motorcycle cops to ride in the Police Unity Tour, a procession from Newark, New Jersey, to the National Police Memorial in Washington D.C. to honor fallen officers and their surviving families. The tour ended with a candlelight vigil.

Below is a video Katherman put together after the trip.

Police urge anyone with information about the crash to call detective Kelvin Pham, who works in the agency’s Traffic Investigation Unit, at 408.277.4654. To call anonymously, dial the Crime Stoppers tip line at 408.947.7867.

The San Jose Police Officers’ Association will collect donations for the Katherman family online here. Or make checks payable to SJPOACF and mail to 1151 N. Fourth St., San Jose, 95112.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. So sad that we have lost another outstanding police officer in the line of duty. From my contacts he was a dedicated officer and loved his job riding motors. But more importantly, he loved his family and kids who should always come first. Will miss you, prayers and thoughts are with you, your family and your brothers and sisters at SJPD.

  2. I watch his video and think about the passion and caring that he put into making this video to honor his brother and sister officers that made the ultimate sacrifice. Its gut wrenching to watch and know that only months later he would be on the very wall that he so proudly paid his respects. RIP Officer Katherman you will never be forgotten!

  3. Most people don’t realize the dangers our police are in everyday. To see one killed in the line of duty is beyond sad. I’m so sorry for the family and losing one of our finest.

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