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Council OKs $50k more for ex-officer’s appeal

Taxpayers’ contribution to the legal fees for defending a former Hawaii County 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.

A jury in October found former officer Jody Buddemeyer was found guilty of third-degree negligent homicide. He was sentenced in November to one year probation. An appeal was filed on Buddemeyer’s behalf in December by Brian De Lima.

The conviction stems from an incident that occurred March 1, 2015, when Buddemeyer struck and killed cyclist Jeffrey Surnow on Waikoloa Road while operating his subsidized police 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,” Kamelamela said.

The bill, which required a two-thirds vote of the council, passed 9-0.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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