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.