I saw a story at the Daily Mail about a case in California that perfectly illustrates why people are so upset with cops these days.
On 8 December 2013, Milton Olin was riding his bicycle in a bike lane in Calabasas, California. LASD Deputy Anthony Wood was returning from a fire call. While driving, Deputy Wood reached over to type a response to a message on his MDT. While typing, he drifted into the bike lane and struck Olin, who died at the scene.
Eight months later, the LA County prosecutor declined to file charges in the case, saying “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.”
Yet California Vehicle Code sections 21807 and 21056 both say that the operator of an emergency vehicle is not relieved “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.”
So why wasn’t Wood charged with reckless operation, or failure to control?
He’s still working as a sheriff’s deputy, even though he’s no longer on patrol. But that has nothing to do with the death; he had already requested the transfer.
So a sheriff’s deputy kills a man with no penalty, in a situation that might have seen a civilian charged with manslaughter.
Sure, there’s a lawsuit. And if the Olin estate wins, guess who pays that bill? The taxpayers of Los Angeles County. Not Deputy Wood.
Until officers are held individually responsible for their misdeeds and misadventures, nothing will change.
This does not in any way excuse any kind of violence against police officers. Nothing does.
But doesn’t it go a long way toward explaining why people might be angry?