Ex-cop scheduled for trial in fatal 2015 crash

KEALAKEKUA — An oft-delayed jury trial in the case of a former Hawaii Police Department officer accused of fatally striking a bicyclist in 2015 is moving closer toward happening after a request for a continuance was denied.

However, defense counsel for Jody Buddemeyer plans to file an additional motion prior to the trial date.

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On Tuesday morning, defense attorney Brian DeLima, representing Buddemeyer, asked 3rd Circuit Court Judge Melvin Fujino to continue the trial scheduled for Feb. 13 on the grounds that he needed additional time to seek an expert witness and to adequately prepare for trial.

Fujino recalled to the court the number of times the case had been continued. He said Buddemeyer was originally scheduled to go to jury trial on Jan. 24, 2017. It was rescheduled four times.

Fujino said he didn’t find DeLima’s reasons to continue the trial adequate.

After the hearing, DeLima said, he accepted the judge’s ruling as there wasn’t sufficient detail in his motion over reasons why he was asking for the continuance. He plans to submit a further motion, which provides that detail prior to the trial date.

Buddemeyer pleaded not guilty in October 2016 to charges of first-degree negligent homicide, tampering with physical evidence and making a false report to law enforcement in connection with the March 1, 2015, crash that killed Jeffrey Surnow, a 69-year-old visitor from Michigan.

Police say Buddemeyer was operating a subsidized patrol car eastbound and was on-duty when his vehicle struck and killed Surnow, of West Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, as he rode his bicycle east up Waikoloa Road. The collision, which Buddemeyer reported at 6:25 a.m., occurred near mile marker 11.

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A police misconduct report, which does not include names, said an officer was terminated in 2015 for tampering with the scene after being involved in a traffic fatality. Buddemeyer is no longer on the department’s sworn personnel list.

First responders with the Hawaii Fire Department initially reported the incident as a hit-and-run after Surnow was found lying face down near a “severely damaged” bicycle on the road’s shoulder. They noted he had died prior to their arrival.