Motorcylist hit by police blames software for accident

The 'mobile office,' not the officer, was at fault, says victim


By PoliceOne Staff

AUSTIN, Texas — After the Austin Police Department hit a motorcylist, the victim on the bike, Louis Olivier, 75, received a $250,000 settlement from the city. Now, Olivier is requesting more city cash and points to technology — not the police officer — as the party at fault.

A KVU News article reports that dashcam video shows APD officer Damon Dunn running a stop sign in North Austin before he collided with Olivier, who was riding his motorcycle. According to police documents, Dunn was typing on his computer data terminal when the crash occurred.

Olivier, who has undergone four skin grafts since the accident, faces about $500,000 in medical bills. The $250,000 settlement for Olivier is by law the most the city can pay in liability cases.

The victim, however, has never considered the city to be his primary problem, and is pursuing a lawsuit against Tritech and Versaterm, two software manufacturers.

"From the beginning we never really blamed the city," said Guy Watts, Olivier's lawyer. "This lawsuit has always been about the product manufacturers who enable vehicles to turn into mobile offices."

Watts would like to see technology that disables the use of computer keyboards when vehicles start moving. If technology exists to bring a computer inside a police cruiser, that same technology could be utilized with safety features in mind, he said, making it possible to tailor existing software to prevent accidents like Olivier's.

Olivier said he hopes his lawsuit will prevent his scenario from being repeated.

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