KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – A jury has convicted a former Hawaii cop of killing a Michigan bicyclist in 2015 and lying about the accident. The Big Island officer was found guilty last week of misdemeanor negligent homicide after prosecutors said he struck and killed 63-year-old Jeffrey Surnow. Surnow, a Michigan resident, was out riding his bike in March 2015 when the officer, Jody Buddemeyer, struck him from behind.
According to prosecutors, Buddemeyer fabricated the details of the accident telling dispatchers it was a hit-and-run. Buddemeyer even “methodically and thoughtfully” hid the broken parts of his car and claimed to investigators he hit a pig said Deputy Prosecutor Kauanoe Jackson. Despite the obvious evidence tampering, the jury found the Hawaii cop not guilty on that charge. They also found him not guilty on the charge of false reporting to law enforcement. The only saving grace was that the jury saw fit to find him guilty in the death of Surnow.
“I do appreciate the jury’s decision,” Jackson told West Hawaii Today. “The state understands it was a difficult case and believes the jury did their best with the evidence presented.”
Buddemeyer’s attorney, Brian De Lima, was dismayed by the verdict and argued his client was fatigued at the time of the crash due to working a double-shift.
“We appreciate the hard work of the jury in looking at the evidence and applying the law and respect their decision,” De Lima said following the hearing.
Buddemeyer’s sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 30th. He faces up to one year in prison for the misdemeanor negligent homicide conviction.
Surnow’s brother Jeffrey, also an avid long-distance cyclist, now avoids bike riding on open roads following his brother’s death.
“My views have changed since my brother died,” he said in 2017. “Speaking for myself, I no longer feel safe riding on the roads. I ride my mountain bike exclusively on trails free of cars.”