A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who struck and killed a former Napster executive as he was riding his bicycle in Calabasas last year sent six text messages in the moments leading up to the collision, court records show.
It’s been almost eight months since former Napster executive Milton Olin Jr. was killed as he rode his Cervelo R3 mountain bike along a winding stretch of Mulholland Drive, hit from behind by the patrol car.
The deputy has since returned to active duty, though he is no longer doing patrol work. The sheriff’s investigation into the Dec. 8 accident has been forwarded to the district attorney for review.
The text messages were discovered after a sheriff’s detective -- unconvinced of a previous finding that cellphone use had not been a factor -- requested a search warrant for Deputy Andrew Francis Wood’s phone records. The accident, he wrote in his request, had the telltale signs of distracted driving.
“It appears that Deputy Wood may have been distracted by using his cellular telephone or viewing and/or using the Mobile Digital Computer (MDC) in his radio car at the time of the collision,” sheriff’s Det. Russell A. Townsley wrote.
But for the family of the 65-year-old entertainment attorney and executive, answers remain elusive.
Police reports say Olin was struck from behind with enough force that it projected him into the air. He landed in a heap on the road behind the patrol car, authorities said.
Witnesses told investigators that the deputy had failed to negotiate the curve on Mulholland and drove straight into the bike. There was no indication the patrolman ever hit his brakes before colliding with the bike, they said.
The coroner’s office determined that Olin died of blunt-force trauma.
But Bruce Broillet, the family’s attorney, said the Sheriff’s Department had denied them access to the vehicle, the download from the patrol car’s black box and measurements taken at the accident site.
The family has since filed a wrongful death suit and is hopeful the discovery process, when reports and evidence can be obtained, will yield a clearer picture of what happened that December afternoon.
“Losing a loved one is never easy, but when it happens catastrophically it is difficult to get a sense of closure,” said Chris Olin, one of Olin’s two grown children. “We’re still grieving and struggling.”