Guilty of a misdemeanor

  • Former Hawaii County police officer Jody Buddemeyer awaits a verdict from the jury Friday evening. Buddemeyer was accused of first-degree negligent homicide after fatally striking a cyclist over three years ago. Jurors found him guilty of a lesser offense in the third degree. (Tiffany DeMasters/West Hawaii Today)

KEALAKEKUA — A former Hawaii County police officer faces up to a year in jail after jurors on Friday found him guilty of misdemeanor negligent homicide for fatally striking a cyclist more than three years ago.

The 12-member jury returned the verdict finding former officer Jody Buddemeyer guilty of third-degree negligent homicide, a lesser included offense after deliberating on the case for nearly six hours following closing arguments Friday. The officer had faced first-degree negligent homicide, a class B felony that carried a prison term of up to 10 years.

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They also found Buddemeyer not guilty of evidence tampering and false reporting to law enforcement.

“I do appreciate the jury’s decision,” Deputy Prosecutor Kauanoe Jackson said Friday evening. “The state understands it was a difficult case and believes the jury did their best with the evidence presented.”

Buddemeyer declined to comment after the verdict. His Defense Counselor Brian De Lima spoke on his behalf.

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

He faces up to one year incarceration and a maximum fine of $2,000 at sentencing, which has been scheduled for Nov. 30.

Jackson told 3rd Circuit Court Judge Melvin Fujino Friday evening that the family of Jeffrey Surnow, the Michigan man killed in the March 1, 2015, crash, would like to provide input on the sentencing.

Charges stem from a car accident on March 1, 2015, when Buddemeyer fatally struck cyclist Jeffrey Surnow from behind while traveling east in his police subsidized vehicle on Waikoloa Road. The prosecution asserted throughout the trial the former officer falsely reported the crash when he called it into dispatch as a hit-and-run.

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Jackson argued Buddemeyer “methodically and thoughtfully” concealed broken car parts in his vehicle and misled fellow officers who responded to the scene by telling them he had hit a pig.

De Lima asserted Buddemeyer was fatigued at the time of the crash due to working a double-back shift. He questioned court-appointed doctors who indicated the former officer suffered from acute stress upon seeing Surnow’s body, which led to him behaving in a dissociative state.

  1. Buds4All October 13, 2018 6:46 am

    So he will serve 6 months….interesting


    1. HHFF October 13, 2018 12:35 pm

      Hmmmmmm…….who knows?


  2. Du Mhan Yhu October 13, 2018 7:14 am

    The fix was in, the blue line closes ranks once again.

    Any of us would be nailed with far worse after what was essentially a hit and run.


    1. ypupule October 13, 2018 7:47 am

      Didn’t his fellow cops testify against him? Or are you suggesting they did so less vigorously than they would’ve had he not been a cop?

      Otherwise, not sure how the cops coulda fixed the outcome… ?


      1. HHFF October 13, 2018 12:35 pm

        Right…..thank you!


  3. ypupule October 13, 2018 7:45 am

    Could be a reflection of opposing counsels’ relative skills. But maybe this is why PAs often appear to be wimping out when they settle for lessers via plea agreements. Juries almost always have underlying social, cultural biases no matter what you do in terms of jury selection, and sometimes it’s probably just hard to win regardless of your case.


  4. Sara Steiner-jackson October 13, 2018 8:27 am

    Cops pretty much can kill whoever they want whenever they want. period.


  5. HHFF October 13, 2018 12:38 pm

    Cylists and Motorists need to be mindful….end of story.


  6. Chickie Galore October 13, 2018 5:10 pm

    I can’t believe it. He left the scene. He meddled with evidence. But he didn’t mean to? Wow, scary and corrupt and….wow. How sad. I’ve been to the police commission. It was a joke, just like this.


    1. 411 October 13, 2018 8:33 pm

      He never left the scene, called in the report himself, gave officers witness information, and even called TEU Officers to the scene. You obviously didn’t attend the two week trial or listen to the evidence like the 12 independent jurors had to do. Don’t just throw out misinformation just because you read an article in a paper and expect it to be accurate.


      1. Du Mhan Yhu October 14, 2018 8:30 am

        Anything you say, officer.


  7. Big Mac October 13, 2018 7:28 pm

    Isn’t it time to start building bike paths?


  8. Robert_Gray October 13, 2018 9:08 pm

    An FBI agent shot an unarmed man in a Honolulu McDonalds and got off. America has a problem with justice.


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