Tuesday, February 5, 2002

Off-duty Big Isle policeman
strikes and kills pedestrian

By Rod Thompson

HILO >> A Big Island pedestrian was struck and killed by an off-duty policeman on Volcano Highway south of Hilo shortly after midnight yesterday, police said.

The victim was identified as Kamekona Cummings, 33, of Hawaiian Acres, a rural subdivision near the accident site.

The officer whose car hit Cummings was identified as Sgt. James Gusman, 33, a six-year veteran of the Police Department.

Gusman had finished work in Kau and was returning to his home in Hilo at the time of the 12:24 a.m. accident. He reported the matter on his police radio.

Cummings was declared dead at Hilo Hospital at 5:14 a.m.

Dressed in a long-sleeved camouflage shirt and black shorts, Cummings was apparently attempting to cross Volcano Highway in Kurtistown, near Hawaiian Acres, police said.

Acquaintances told police they had dropped him off in Kurtistown following a concert at which he had been drinking heavily.

Court documents show Cummings, born on Kauai, had a criminal history and a record of mental illness.

When he was charged with robbery in 1995, his father had died and his mother's telephone had been disconnected, records show. The Star-Bulletin was unable to contact any relatives.

His sources of support were Social Security and food stamps, records show.

Last year, Cummings was placed on five years' probation for the 1995 offense.

He was charged with attempted escape in 1998, but the case was dismissed on grounds of "physical or mental illness."

A probation officer noted in 1998 that "the defendant is mentally ill" but that he was on medication and "doing well."

Cummings was charged again in 2000 for robbery and assault.

He was sentenced to a year in jail and was ordered to receive treatment at the Big Island Substance Abuse Council.

Police said yesterday that a standard negligent-homicide investigation is being conducted, plus an internal investigation to see whether Gusman violated any department regulations.

Police ask anyone who spent time with Cummings earlier in the evening or had other information to call them at 961-2332.

E-mail to City Desk

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