A Los Angeles County Sherriff's Department deputy who was charged with vehicular homicide for killing lawyer and former Napster COO Milton Olin, Jr. is getting off without punishment, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's won't press charges because although Andrew Wood was distracted by typing into his cruiser's computer while, he was acting in his official capacity and so "acted lawfully," as official documents explain.
An online petition demanding that Wood be prosecuted for Olin's death has received 67,809 signatures. According to the petition, Olin's family had been unable to obtain even a copy of the collision report. The family is suing Los Angeles County, the Sherriff's Department, and Wood. The suit seeks at least $80,000 in damages and a jury trial, according to another Daily News report.
Wood was on duty driving his cruiser at 48 miles per hour on December 8, 2013 in Calabasas, California. He claimed at the time that Olin swerved out of the bike lane and into his lane. Wood said that he swerved right to avoid Olin but that the attorney did the same, making the collision unavoidable.
However, an eyewitness driver behind the patrol vehicle contradicted Olin. Andrew McCown said he did not see the cruiser swerve nor brake lights come on until after Olin "flew into the air." About 36 seconds before the accident, another police unit sent Wood a text message. He was replying to it when he struck Olin.
There was evidence that Wood had also sent or received 9 text messages between 12:51 and 1:01, a period during which the cruiser was stopped. Wood sent a last text message at 1:04, roughly a minute before he struck Olin.
But the DA's office has officially refused to prosecute "this tragic collision" even though "Wood briefly took his eyes away from the road precisely when the narrow roadway curved slightly to the left without prior warning, causing him to inadvertently travel straight into the bike lane, immediately striking Olin."
Even though Wood was distracted because he was texting another officer, because it was considered official business, he was "acting within the course and scope of his duties." The prohibiting use of wireless equipment while driving "does not apply to an emergency services professional using an electronic wireless communications device while operating an authorized emergency vehicle ... in the course and scope of his or her duties."
And so Wood faces no criminal charges, although he and the department and county still face the lawsuit.