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Jury convicts former Big Island officer in death

  • COURTESY HAWAII COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT

KAILUA-KONA >> A Hawaii jury has convicted a former Big Island police officer in the 2015 death of a bicyclist.

Jody Buddemeyer was found guilty last week of misdemeanor negligent homicide after prosecutors said he struck and killed 63-year-old Jeffrey Surnow.

Surnow, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, was riding his bike on the Big Island in March 2015 when Buddemeyer’s car hit him from behind, authorities said.

Prosecutors claimed Buddemeyer falsely reported the crash, telling police dispatch it was a hit-and-run.

Deputy Prosecutor Kauanoe Jackson said the former officer had “methodically and thoughtfully” concealed broken car parts in his vehicle and misled police by telling them he had hit a pig.

The jury found Buddemeyer not guilty of evidence tampering and false reporting to law enforcement.

“I do appreciate the jury’s decision,” Jackson told West Hawaii Today. “The state understands it was a difficult case and believes the jury did their best with the evidence presented.”

Defense attorney Brian De Lima had argued that Buddemeyer was fatigued at the time of the crash due to working a double-back shift.

“We appreciate the hard work of the jury in looking at the evidence and applying the law and respect their decision,” De Lima said following the hearing.

Buddemeyer is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 30. He could be imprisoned up to a year.

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