Few answers surrounding passing of Johnathan Watson

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KAILUA-KONA— The death of Johnathan Watson, 49, Ocean View, has left his family confused as police are still looking for answers.


KAILUA-KONA— The death of Johnathan Watson, 49, Ocean View, has left his family confused as police are still looking for answers.

Police believe Watson shot himself in the leg on April 25 in his home and called for help. When officers arrived, they said he came out in an aggressive manner and attacked them.

Watson’s father and stepmother, Noel and Laurie Watson of Phoenix did not find out until Friday, when a friend sent a link of the West Hawaii Today story to them, asking “is this your son?”

“It was,” Laurie Watson said, although it had been years since they’d seen him.

“Why did he call police and attack them?” she said.

That is a question police investigators are trying to answer.

Major Mitchell Kanehailua said “it was pretty unexpected for the officers.” They had expected they would be helping someone when they arrived at his home that morning.

Officers took Watson to the ground and handcuffed him, all the while he continued yelling. He then suddenly stopped and the officers realized he was in distress, Kanehailua said, so they removed the handcuffs and began to administer CPR, but attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

The police protocol for deaths is to inform the next of kin, said Kanehailua. In this case, Watson’s mother, Judith Taggerty, was actually a clerk for the police department who retired around five years ago. The detectives took it upon themselves to tell her, Kanehailua said.

In other events, it’s chaplains or a supervisor and officers who provide that service.

“It’s hard, we do at times miss certain people and they call and are upset,” Kanehailua said.

Johnathan Watson was well-regarded by the people who knew him in Ocean View for his skills as a handyman and equipment operator.

He was also an avid fisherman, Laurie Watson remembers. His home has two full-sized fishing boats parked outside, which his neighbors recall watching him build.

When he was younger he bought a 26-foot Boston Whaler and rebuilt it, including decking and the engine.

“He told me he would bring me home a 500-pound marlin. I said that’s bigger than your boat,” she remembered.

He did, although he needed the help of another vessel to get the massive fish into port.

He lived with them for years, going to school and working with his grandmother at her janitorial company. He would get up at 3 or 4 a.m. to start work. While clearing out the grease traps of restaurants, a disgusting task, he would go at with a smile, Laurie Watson said.

“People used to ask ‘why do you pay him $15 an hour? This was in the ‘80s and she would say, ‘because he works like a man,’” she said.

After work he’d go bodyboarding then get on the bus for school.


Living in a remote part of Ocean View, he was called “reclusive” by some of his neighbors when asked by West Hawaii Today. People in the area knew little about him. Watson had built his home out of dressed lava rock over a seven-year period while living on-site.

The autopsy was completed and ruled inconclusive, pending the completion of the toxicology report, which could take weeks.

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