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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: 5, Insightful) by mmcmonster on Wednesday September 03 2014, @02:15PM

    by mmcmonster (401) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @02:15PM (#88906)

    Last time I heard, the police were supposed to obey the law. I don't see how this is anything less than vehicular manslaughter.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by jackb_guppy on Wednesday September 03 2014, @04:30PM

    by jackb_guppy (3560) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @04:30PM (#88968)

    Last I saw, California has a basic speed law. It says you cannot proceed forward faster than the person in front of you or vision of the road in front of you. (very obvious statement) If you do you are at fault. This is way few years (maybe 10 or 15) there was big pile up on Hwy99 during fog. Everyone was sited for failing the basic speed law, expect for the person at the very front. That include multiple CHP officers in the crash.

    So officer at the minimum when he crossed in the bicycle lane, exceed the speed of that lane, by an excess amount. This then leads to wanton endangerment. That then should be it vehicular manslaughter.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Wednesday September 03 2014, @03:16PM

    by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @03:16PM (#88936)

    Last time I heard, the police were supposed to obey the law.

    Unless they're doing so to maintain their cover if they're undercover, then yes, they are supposed to obey the law. But they often don't and get away with it, because they know full well that good old Joe down at the precinct would never arrest them.

    One cop in my local area actually developed a bit of a reputation among police because he did enforce the law against his fellow officers, including arresting the chief of a neighboring jurisdiction for DUI. That should tell you how rare it is for cops to actually be penalized for breaking the law, on-duty or not.

    --
    The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
  • (Score: 2) by Blackmoore on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:47PM

    by Blackmoore (57) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:47PM (#89004) Journal
    Police no longer "serve and protect" they "enforce"

    now how they do this without having a legal degree is beyond me.
  • (Score: 2) by Tork on Wednesday September 03 2014, @03:13PM

    by Tork (3914) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @03:13PM (#88935)
    They're claiming that typing into his computer is part of his job so he's exempt from being at fault for it. It's sorta like how if you're a cop you can shoot an unarmed dude and just get paid leave for it.
    --
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03 2014, @03:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03 2014, @03:00PM (#88926)

    Last time I heard, the police were supposed to obey the law.

    You would think so, wouldn't you? If anything, you would expect police to be held to a higher standard. Despite this, in case after case, we're seeing that police officers seem to be above the law. In fact, given the increasing militarization of US police, it's almost like they think they're all Judge Dredd.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Geezer on Wednesday September 03 2014, @02:21PM

    by Geezer (511) on Wednesday September 03 2014, @02:21PM (#88910)

    Because in America, laws are only enforced by the police, not on the police.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:12PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03 2014, @05:12PM (#88983)

    > Because in America, laws are only enforced by the police, not on the police.

    Responsibility without accountability. It is practically our national motto.