A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who was typing on a patrol car computer when he hit and killed a bicyclist in Calabasas last year will not be prosecuted, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said in a statement Thursday.
In declining to bring criminal charges against Deputy Andrew Francis Wood, prosecutors noted that a state law banning drivers from using wireless electronic devices while driving exempts police officers and other emergency professionals.
Wood, 38, was responding to another deputy's question on his patrol car's computer terminal after leaving a call about a fire at Calabasas High School when the collision occurred, killing Milton Olin Jr., a former Napster executive and noted entertainment attorney.
Olin, 65, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Wood initially said that Olin had swerved from the bicycle lane on Mullholland Highway into the path of his patrol car, the statement said. But the district attorney's office concluded that “evidence examined in this investigation shows that this tragic collision occurred as a result of Deputy Wood crossing into the bicycle lane.”
To prove that Wood committed manslaughter, Deputy Dist. Atty. Rosa Alarcon wrote, prosecutors would have to prove that the collision was caused by the deputy's negligence.
The Dec. 8, 2013, crash occurred soon after a deputy assigned to Calabasas asked Wood in police code whether he had completed his work on the fire call, the memo said.
Alarcon wrote that “it is reasonable that Wood would have felt that an immediate response was necessary in order to prevent the Calabasas deputy from responding unnecessarily” to the fire call, which had been completed.
Prosecutors said Wood acted lawfully because he was acting within the course and scope of his duties when he was typing.
Attorney Bruce Broillet said the Olin’s family plans to move forward with a wrongful death lawsuit against the Sheriff's Department. “Once again we see the government protecting its own,” Broillet said in a statement.
Since the crash, the department has apologized to Olin’s family in a public statement and Wood has transferred from patrol to an assignment in the department's court services division.
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