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Sheriff cleared in criminal case but investigation will look into how he veered into bike lane while typing

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is launching a probe into the behaviour of a deputy who was said to be typing on his computer when he hit and killed a cyclist in a bicycle lane.

Deputy Andrew Wood was driving his patrol car on Mulholland Highway in December last year, when he was said to have entered the bike lane “as a result of inattention caused by typing into his MDC (mobile digital computer)”.

The Internal Affairs probe was said to be a “routine” procedure that would examine whether Wood violated any department policies, spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told Whittier Daily News.

“In any administrative investigations, the possible outcomes can range from no discipline to significant discipline,” she said.

Prosecutors in the previous criminal investigation into the death of Milton Olin, Jr. found that the sheriff “acted lawfully,” and “within the course and scope of his duties” in typing on his computer

Although California has a law against texting while driving, it exempts emergency services professionals operating their emergency vehicles.

Because state law apparently exempts law enforcement officers from the anti-texting or typing ban, “it’s up to law enforcement agencies to set proper protocols, which it looks like the Sheriff’s Department failed to do,” said Eric Bruins, policy and planning director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

Bruins said this loophole allows certain people to “essentially use a computer as if they’re at a desk while they’re behind the wheel.”

Cycling campaigners are to hold a vigil ride next week to call on local lawmakers to reconsider the decision to not press charges against Wood.

The cyclist’s family has confirmed that has filed a lawsuit against the county, the Sheriff’s Department and the deputy.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

10 comments

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Binky [116 posts] 1 year ago
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Damn! that's shocking!
Kill a cyclist while on the job and get a free pass!?

I hope the family wins the lawsuit.

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Beaufort [270 posts] 1 year ago
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Can't believe it's taken you this long to pick up on this story...

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truffy [653 posts] 1 year ago
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Quote:

Although California has a law against texting while driving, it exempts emergency services professionals operating their emergency vehicles.

...

Bruins said this loophole allows certain people to “essentially use a computer as if they’re at a desk while they’re behind the wheel.”

Cycling campaigners are to hold a vigil ride next week to call on local lawmakers to reconsider the decision to not press charges against Wood.

It sounds like he was working within the rules, as bizarre as that seems. Perhaps they'd be better using their energies to focus on changing that loophole in the first place

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joopi [9 posts] 1 year ago
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What's worse: he tried to weasle his way out from under his responsability by claiming that the cyclist veered into his path, which was established as a lie. And then the cops wonder why they are getting less and less respect....

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ronin [268 posts] 1 year ago
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Don't forget now people, it's not justice...it's The Law.

I can't imagine how difficult it would be to get that law changed. Imagine the police's lobby group.

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Lungsofa74yearold [282 posts] 1 year ago
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Typing. On a laptop. Jesus  14 . Hard to believe but this makes the law / enforcement on texting etc. in this country look actually quite good!!!! Words fail me. The prosecutors also sound like total scumbags - nothing to see here, move along etc....

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truffy [653 posts] 1 year ago
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joopi wrote:

claiming that the cyclist veered into his path

EITHER he was watching the cyclist and saw him veer into his path OR he was typing and not paying attention. Can't have it both ways.

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KNOWNOTHINGBOZO [13 posts] 1 year ago
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It's a weird approach by the US legal system. Fair enough regarding the whole texting thing, but isn't it illegal and therefore criminal to drive in a cycle lane? The reason then becomes mitigation not a defence.

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severs1966 [353 posts] 1 year ago
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It may be within the law to type into a computer, in this job, but at what point does it become legal to run people over?

Surely he should be punished at least in the same way as a cop who runs someone over when NOT typing into a computer?

Or are cops just allowed to run over anyone they want to?

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 1 year ago
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It's America, the Police murder with impunity, not just with cars either.