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.