DA rejects charges against sheriff's deputy who killed cyclist

In other news, water remains wet:

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who was typing on a patrol car computer when he hit and killed a bicyclist in Calabasas last year will not be prosecuted, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said in a statement Thursday.

In declining to bring criminal charges against Deputy Andrew Francis Wood, prosecutors noted that a state law banning drivers from using wireless electronic devices while driving exempts police officers and other emergency professionals. [...]

Wood initially said that Olin had swerved from the bicycle lane on Mullholland Highway into the path of his patrol car, the statement said. But the district attorney's office concluded that "evidence examined in this investigation shows that this tragic collision occurred as a result of Deputy Wood crossing into the bicycle lane."

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6 Responses:

  1. When you can't get justice for a rich white guy senselessly murdered by police...

  2. I suspect this will lead to a civil suit. LA County has now said that their employee killed someone while carrying out his duties (so they can't now say "it's not our fault, he wasn't supposed to do that"), and they've also said that the deputy's initial statement was false. I think many plaintiff's attorneys would love to get a case with two defendants, one of whom has deep pockets and has tied themselves to the other defendant, who they say lied about the accident.

    • I think they still end up with one defendant.
      CVC 17001:

      A public entity is liable for death or injury to person or property proximately caused by a negligent or wrongful act or omission in the operation of any motor vehicle by an employee of the public entity acting within the scope of his employment.

  3. DaveL says:

    Not to mention a law permitting police to type while driving can be said to mean they are legally permitted to do so negligently.

  4. DaveL says:

    "can" -> "can't" in the previous.

  5. A DA actually interested in prosecuting this negligent homicide would be looking at other laws to establish negligence. The basic speed law, reckless driving, right-of-way violations and lane-changing without signaling, in particular. The only "reasonable and prudent" speed for a vehicle whose driver isn't looking at the road in front of them is well below the speed likely to cause death or serious injury. The exemptions to speed laws for a police officer only apply when responding to an emergency or chasing a suspect, and when the lights and siren are in use.

    CVC 22350, 23103, 21055 and 17001 are all relevant reading.

    Of course, water remains wet, prosecutors avoid making enemies of police departments, most prosecutors (and police) are motor vehicle drivers (not cyclists), and most drivers want to treat negligence as accidents.

    I assume that 99% of the time that a car hits a cyclist, the cyclist dies, and the car driver says the bike suddenly swerved into their path, that we're really describing something like this situation, except with less evidence to prove they're lying (or police that can't be bothered to investigate).