Council OKs $50k more for ex-officer

  • Former Hawaii County police officer Jody Buddemeyer, left, and his attorney, Brian De Lima, await the verdict in his trial in Kona Circuit Court. (TIFFANY DEMASTERS/West Hawaii Today, file)

HILO — Taxpayers’ legal fees defending a former police officer who struck and killed a bicyclist have reached $100,000 following a vote by the County Council on Tuesday adding another $50,000 for an outside attorney to appeal the negligent homicide conviction.

Former Hawaii County Police Officer Jody Buddemeyer was found guilty of third-degree negligent homicide by a jury in October. The former officer was sentenced in November to one year probation. An appeal was filed on Buddemeyer’s behalf in December by Brian De Lima.


The charge stems from an incident that occurred on March 1, 2015, when Buddemeyer struck and killed cyclist Jeffrey Surnow on Waikoloa Road while operating his police subsidized vehicle. The County Council approved the hiring of Brian De Lima to handle the criminal case in 2017 and initially paid $50,000.

A resolution, filed Jan. 15, sought $40,000 to continue De Lima’s contract, however, Corporation Counsel Joe Kamelamela on Jan. 30 filed an amended resolution seeking an additional $10,000. The additional funds were needed because De Lima, who had worked toward a settlement in the case, had to rent an office in Kona to attend the trial.


“We are asking for a little bit more because I think he did quality work for Mr. Buddemeyer,” said Kamelamela.

The bill, which required a two-thirds vote of the council, passed 9-0.

  1. chester February 6, 2019 4:53 am

    Why don’t they take the 50K from Buddemeyers pension, one year probation is ridiculous for what he did.

  2. qui bono February 6, 2019 5:14 am


  3. Scooby February 6, 2019 6:33 am

    Why is loser Joe Kamelamela increasing the amount by $10k because Delima did quality work? So if he didn’t do a good job he would get $40k? The guy committed a crime and was convicted by a jury. Why are we on the hook for his attorney fees after he gets convicted? There’s still a civil suit against the county that Kamelamela is handling and this is a preview of how he will settle the suit!

  4. Big ideas February 6, 2019 6:40 am

    Why is it that people love the jury system when it rules in favor of a BLM case….but screams failure when it rules in favor of a police officer. This exposes the a dishonest public.

  5. Sara Steiner-jackson February 6, 2019 8:27 am

    So anyone who works for the county can kill people and the county will pay their legal representation even though they have been fired??? Darn, who comes up with this blarney???

  6. Bill Myers February 6, 2019 10:02 am

    Bottom line — if we keep electing these folks to the County Council, we will keep getting votes like this. Oh, and watch for the tax increase on the way.

  7. joedriver February 6, 2019 6:35 pm

    The punishment for the crime is not what it should be why would the judge had down such a lenient sentence. I know people found guilty of having an ounce of Mary J that got hard time, years…

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