LA sheriff to face internal investigation after hitting and killing cyclist while typing on mobile computer

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

by Sarah Barth   August 31, 2014  

Los Angeles skyline at night (copyright Thomas Pintario:Wikimedia Commons).jpg

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.

11 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Damn! that's shocking!
Kill a cyclist while on the job and get a free pass!?

I hope the family wins the lawsuit.

posted by Binky [106 posts]
31st August 2014 - 5:03

14 Likes

Can't believe it's taken you this long to pick up on this story...

posted by Beaufort [160 posts]
31st August 2014 - 8:34

17 Likes

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

posted by truffy [309 posts]
31st August 2014 - 10:34

19 Likes

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....

posted by joopi [7 posts]
31st August 2014 - 15:17

11 Likes

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.

posted by ronin [140 posts]
31st August 2014 - 17:53

8 Likes

What a scumbag.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [303 posts]
31st August 2014 - 20:35

10 Likes

Typing. On a laptop. Jesus Angry . 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....

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [217 posts]
31st August 2014 - 20:55

7 Likes

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.

posted by truffy [309 posts]
31st August 2014 - 21:22

6 Likes

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.

Some people are like slinkies, not much use for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs

posted by KNOWNOTHINGBOZO [14 posts]
1st September 2014 - 6:47

3 Likes

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?

posted by severs1966 [84 posts]
1st September 2014 - 17:43

1 Like

It's America, the Police murder with impunity, not just with cars either.

posted by drfabulous0 [338 posts]
2nd September 2014 - 21:20

0 Likes