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posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday September 03 2014, @01:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the unsafe-at-any-speed dept.

The Los Angeles Daily News reports that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to press charges against a sheriff’s deputy who fatally struck cyclist Milton Olin Jr. while he was apparently distracted by his mobile digital computer. “Wood entered the bicycle lane as a result of inattention caused by typing into his (Mobile Digital Computer),” according to the declination letter prepared by the Justice System Integrity Division of the District Attorney’s Office and released Wednesday. “He was responding to a deputy who was inquiring whether the fire investigation had been completed. Since Wood was acting within the course and scope of his duties when he began to type his response, under Vehicle Code section 23123.5, he acted lawfully.”

To establish the crime of vehicular manslaughter, prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Wood was criminally negligent. While Wood was texting shortly before the collision, there was no evidence he was texting or doing anything else that would have distracted him at the time of the collision. Olin’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county, the Sheriff’s Department and the deputy, alleging driver negligence and seeking to obtain more information about the incident. “Just because the law allows someone to do something while driving doesn’t mean they are allowed to do something unsafely while driving,” says Eric Bruins. “Hitting someone from behind is very clear evidence that whatever was going on in that car was not safe and should have been considered negligent.”

Update: A day after prosecutors declined to file charges against a distracted sheriff’s deputy who fatally struck a cyclist in Calabasas in December, an official with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said it is launching its own administrative probe into the deputy’s behavior.

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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by drussell on Wednesday September 03 2014, @04:03PM

    by drussell (2678) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @04:03PM (#88958) Journal

    Failing that they can use the "traffic laws do not apply to police" law.

    That's supposed to be only while safe to do so.
    That very important part seems to be missing in this case!

    Here in Alberta, the Traffix Safety Act is quite specific (this particular quote is for ambulances as I had read it recently in the guide and knew where it was but I believe fire and police have the same wording):

    - The Traffic Safety Act, states that a siren on an emergency vehicle shall be operated only when the vehicle is being used in response to an emergency, an emergency call or an alarm.
    - When operating an emergency vehicle, the law states:

    - (1) Where, considering the circumstances, it is reasonable and safe to do so, a person driving an emergency vehicle may while the vehicle’s siren is operating do one or more of the following:

    · (a) drive the vehicle in excess of the speed limit;
    · (b) proceed past a traffic control signal indicating stop or a stop sign without stopping;
    · (c) contravene any provision that is prescribed by the Act, this or other regulations or a municipal bylaw governing the use of the highways.

    · (2) An emergency vehicle, while its siren is operating, has the right of way over all other vehicles.

    - Use of the red flashing lights alone, does not exempt the driver from the Traffic Safety Act.
    - The Traffic Safety Act authorizes emergency medical operators to disregard some traffic laws under limited circumstances. Failure to meet the requirements of these circumstances means that the driver may be subject to Civil and Criminal penalties in the event of a collision.
    - Even during the most serious emergency, an emergency medical operator must consider the safety of others.
    - When parking an emergency vehicle, the law states:

    - Where, considering the circumstances, it is reasonable and safe, an emergency vehicle may, while its flashing lights are operating, be parked contrary to any provision that is prescribed by the Act, this or other regulations or a municipal bylaw governing the parking of motor vehicles.

    Starting Score:    1  point
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