License to kill

August 28, 2014 § 67 Comments

Welcome to America, kids, where justice is for those who wear a badge. Everyone else, your life isn’t worth squat.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney just released its report on the death of Milton Olin, Jr., who was killed by L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Wood. Olin was riding his bike in a bike lane on Mulholland Drive when Deputy Wood, instead of following the curve of the road, drove straight into the bike lane and spattered Olin all over the pavement.

Deputy Wood was typing a message into his mobile digital computer at the time, responding to a non-emergency query from a fellow officer. Prior to the accident, a witness following Deputy Wood had noticed Olin in the bike lane. After killing Olin, Deputy Wood stated that he never saw Olin and didn’t even remember what he was doing prior to killing him.

With no one to contradict him, Deputy Wood then offered up the explanation that Olin had swerved into his travel lane, claiming that Olin “appeared” to have driven in front of the patrol car. Dead men don’t testify, and neither did Olin.

Deputy Wood, however, had been actively texting up until the time he hit Olin, so it’s no surprise he “didn’t see” him.  With nine text messages to and from his wife, beginning at 12:51 PM, the final text message sent by Wood at 1:04 was just before the moment of impact, 1:05. Neither Verizon nor Deputy Wood’s computer record seconds.

If you or I had been texting at the moment we mowed down a cop, we’d be sitting in jail right now awaiting trial on felony charges for second degree murder. Deputy Wood, however, faced no such danger. The district attorney investigated this as misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, but Wood needn’t have worried.

The prosecutor declined to believe the text records showing he was texting at the moment of impact, and instead accepted Wood’s claim that at the time of impact he was typing on his mobile cop computer. This of course shouldn’t absolve Wood from looking at the road, since it was a non-emergent, routine response to another officer asking if he’d finished his earlier run.

Ignoring the fact that one of the witnesses saw Olin, ignoring the fact that Wood was going 3 mph over the speed limit, ignoring the fact that he was texting non-stop leading up to the accident, ignoring the fact that Wood was not responding an emergency, ignoring the gentle curvature of the road, and ignoring the fact that Woods’s claim of Olin “driving in front of him” was self-serving and not in keeping with the road or the experience of the rider, the district attorney declined to file charges. Click here to see the putrid whitewash of a report penned by Assistant D.A. Rosa Alarcon.

Deputy Wood can breathe a sigh of relief while Olin’s family picks up the shattered remnants of their lives. The rest of us should also get the message: Your life is worthless if it’s taken by a cop.

Is this how people feel in Ferguson?

I’m guessing it is.

And really the only question is, “Are we going to take it?”



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§ 67 Responses to License to kill

  • bonnev659 says:

    any way to appeal this? or just civil suits now? it is a sad day in Cali

  • Quiche says:

    I doubt writing a letter will do much, but if you know where we should send them, please let us know.

    • Serge Issakov says:

      Let’s write letters to the press too. If we convince them there is a story here, they’ll do it.

      It’s up to the cycling community to do this.

  • Brian in VA says:

    Good dog, man! That’s just horrific! I’m guessing that officer has no problem sleeping at night, either. I hope the family sues for wrongful death; money is the only thing the police force may hear on this one.

    • fsethd says:

      He won’t even hear that, since it will likely be covered by the department’s insurance.

  • Not sure whether I feel worse about such an appalling decision or the fact I’m not surprised at such an appalling decision

  • Kest says:

    And since the tax payers pay the insurance…..

  • Deb Banks says:

    Seriously sickening. The body count seems to be mounting, surely we need a way to organize and change both policies and culture. Count me in for helping to make change. In this day & age, this, like Matthew & the on-going mess in Ferguson needs more than attention, it needs action.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Pervasive in our great society – monumental moments of “non responsibility”. Try explaining that to your kids.

    • fsethd says:

      You’re responsible for what you do, but others aren’t. I can’t even explain it to myself.

  • John says:

    Let’s see: road curves, speeding, operating his MDC on a curve, “momentary distraction” that takes his vision off of the road just when the road curves, and all this is not a failure to exercise his duty of care? Granted, all of this happened out in Calabasas which is a known bastion of cop lovers, but still, a 1st year law student could convince a jury of this one. That sound you hear is me retching.

  • A-Trav says:

    “To Protect and Swerve”.

  • The Postman says:

    Seems that we need to flood Jackie Lacey and Kamala Harris with letters and petition the state the make the use of MDC illegal while the vehicle is in motion.

  • SBA says:

    There is no alternative way to read Asst DA Alarcon’s Worksheet logic than your conclusion, a license to kill. if LA County’s fair sounding Justice System Integrity Division has adopted this tenet, all peace vehicles with MDC’s are a danger to our lives. Fuck it. Should cyclists and pedestrians wear lights and sirens?

  • Kuerbis says:

    Disgusting, make me want burn a cop car and loot a mini-market !

  • David Kramer says:

    Should we start rioting now?

  • Tom Hall says:

    SHAME.ON.THEM. (this makes my blood boil)

  • Paz says:

    What really makes me feel sad, is that the Police treats themselves like a “Closed Club”, but actually they are citizens of the same country, the same neighborhood, and they are responsible for this neighborhood. If the police and other forces distance themselves completely of the society, this will have a bad ending, we should learn from the past and not reproduce the same mistakes over and over again.

  • Hwy. 39 says:

    Is Rosa Alarcon the daughter of Richard Alarcon, the convicted corrupt politician?

    • fsethd says:

      I don’t know. She’s listed on the web site as a licensed attorney for the DA’s office, though.

  • Serge Issakov says:

    “If you or I had been texting at the moment we mowed down a cop, we’d be sitting in jail right now awaiting trial on felony charges for second degree murder.”

    There have to be cases where an inattentive driver drifted, hit and killed a police officer stopped on the shoulder. I wonder what the legal consequences have been for such drivers.

  • Serge Issakov says:

    CVC 22107 prohibits drivers from turning their vehicle ” from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety”. There is not exception for law enforcement.

    CVC 21209(a): “No person shall drive a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane”

    No exception for law enforcement.

    CVC 21658 (a): “(a) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practical entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until such movement can be made with reasonable safety. ”

    Again, no exception for law enforcement.

    He may have not violated cvc 23123.5, but he was clealry in violation of 22107, 21209 and 21658, and that’s off the top of my head.

    How many vehicle code sections have to violated before irresponsibilty rises to the level of negligence?

  • Rick says:

    The justice system is falsely named.

  • Very highly paid; cushy retirements; prestige in mos communities; a committed fraternity– being a cop is great job for those cut out for the duty. But they should be allowed to slide when they get sloppy. Andy Wood got sloppy, he should at least be fired.

    The fear of being fired for fatally fucking up should be in every officer’s mind. But their union and its political influence makes them, like most public employees, immune.

    Californian’s deserve better. We need to repeal the Police Privacy law that went into effect a few years ago. Public outcry for accountability– and the threat of civil unrest, now so evident– should make this a real possibility. Orange County Bicycle Coalition would support such an effort.

  • Oooops…. wich Icould edit this:

    But they should NOT be allowed to slide when they get sloppy

  • Tom says:

    Because Sheriff’s Deputy Wood is supposedly stressed-out, it’s a virtual given he’ll retire with “disability”.

    IIRC that means half his lavish 6-figure, taxpayer-guaranteed-pension-for-life, will be exempt from all Calif income taxes.

    Given all the pension gimmicks the govt unions & their Democrat-enablers use to extort the public, this dude will likely be getting $150K annual pension at age 50, and perfectly free to find another 100K+ govt gig — like LA City councilman Bernard Parks, who is collecting 2 govt pensions simultaneous with being a paid councilman.

    It’s disgusting.

    • fsethd says:

      We’re going to hand deliver a letter to the DA requesting they prosecute. Hope you and everyone else will join.

    • Hwy. 39 says:

      What’s disgusting is your attempt to politicize this tragedy so that it matches up to your warped view of the world. Republican Governors like Schwarzenegger, Wilson, Deukmejian, Reagan, Knight, Warren, Merriam and Rolf, Jr. all presided over calpers, which was created by a vote of the people during Rolf, Jr.’s term in 1932. Republicans controlled the Assembly and the Senate when calpers was created in 1932. Republicans also controlled the Governor’s office, Assembly and Senate during all or part of the administrations of Reagan, Knight, Warren, and Merriam. Also law enforcement and prison guard unions were some of the largest contributors to Deukmejian’s and Wilson’s campaigns.

      By all means, be a Republican. But be a good one. Be an informed citizen of the facts, not spin. By the way, how do like those on-time, balanced budgets the Democratically controlled legislature has passed the last few years since the minority party has been unable to obstruct it?

  • Hwy. 39 says:

    Jackie Lacey’s contact info:

    District Attorney’s Office
    County of Los Angeles
    210 West Temple Street, Suite 18000
    Los Angeles, CA 90012-3210

    Telephone (213) 974-3512

    Communicate to her that her ADA Rosa Alarcon’s report is flawed, that there are other statutes that Deputy Wood violated that offer no LEO exceptions, and that the Sheriff’s Department recommended that one of their own face vehicular manslaughter charges.

  • Hwy. 39 says:

    § 21052 states that the motor vehicle code (MVC) applies to public employees.

    § 21055 exempts authorized emergency vehicles from certain provisions of the MVC under limited circumstances (none of which seem to apply).

    § 21056 states “Section 21055 does not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway, nor protect him from the consequences of an arbitrary exercise of the privileges granted in that section.”

    § 23103. (a) A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

    Wanton is defined as capricious, reckless of morality, justice etc.; acting without regard for the law or the well-being of others; gratuitous.  

    There’s a start, someone else can run with it. I have to get some work done today.

  • Stacy Kline says:

    Another great post, Seth, and great comments Pete Van Nuys and Serge Issakov. Accountability is on everyone’s minds these days, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and now police officers. The public outcry as evidenced by the 67,544 signatures on the petition to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department/District Attorney to prosecute Deputy Andrew Wood for texting while on duty and causing the death of Attorney Milton Olin Jr., shows that while police officers will always be respected and admired, they are not perceived to be above the law. Prosecute Deputy Wood, and *all* negligent motorists, and maybe we’ll see some real change on the road.

  • alanashe says:

    If he veered into the bike lane and evidence can prove that how can his argument that Olin rode into the patrol car outside of the lane while being struck within the lane?

  • Evan says:

    His family has set up — if you find this story infuriating then contributing time or money should be a therapeutic outlet.

  • […] happen. There are tons of articles out there about how killing a cyclist in a car is the only legal form of murder (much of this coming from NYC), and it does seem that way all too often. I’m not […]

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