Tesla Driver Operating in Autopilot Charged with 2 Counts of Manslaughter

By B.N. Frank

Last month Tesla recalled hundreds of thousands of its vehicles in the U.S. and China.  Of course, Tesla recalls are nothing new (see 1, 2).  In addition to recalls, various dangerous incidents and issues have been reported and continue to be reported about Tesla vehicles (see 1, 2, 3).  Last year, the U.S. government started an investigation on Tesla’s autopilot feature.  Police officers injured by a Tesla being operated in Autopilot filed a lawsuit against the company as well.  Nevertheless, the company continues to offer features that allow cars to drive customers instead of vice versa.  Naturally, Tesla owners aren’t required to use these features if they have safety concerns.

From Ars Technica:


Manslaughter charges follow Tesla driver’s Autopilot red light run

The crash happened in Los Angeles in 2019, killing two people in a Honda Civic.

Prosecutors in California have charged a Tesla driver with two counts of manslaughter as a result of a fatal crash in December 2019. According to the Associated Press, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed that the Autopilot driver-assistance feature was active at the time of the crash. That makes this case notable in that these are the first felony charges to result from a fatal crash involving a partially automated driving system.

The fatal crash took place in Gardena, California, on December 29, 2019. According to reports, the Tesla Model S owned by Kevin Riad exited State Route 91, failed to stop at a red light, and then collided with a Honda Civic, killing both of that car’s occupants, Gilberto Alcazar Lopez and Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez. Within days, the NHTSA announced it would investigate the incident—one of a growing number of cases involving Tesla Autopilot that the agency is looking into.

The AP reports that no one involved with the case is prepared to talk publicly ahead of a preliminary hearing on February 23, although it notes that Riad pleaded not guilty. The families of both victims are suing Riad and Tesla in separate lawsuits, alleging that Riad was negligent and that Tesla has sold defective vehicles. The cases are expected to reach court in 2023.

While these are the first felony charges for a crash involving a driver-assistance system like Autopilot, in 2020, a grand jury in Arizona indicted Rafaela Vasquez, the safety driver who was in charge of an autonomous Uber R&D vehicle that struck and killed Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona, in 2018.


Other undesirable issues have also been identified with Tesla vehicles including:

Of course, battery fires, car fires that are difficult to extinguish, and radiation emissions are a problem in other company’s Electric Vehicles (EV) as well (see 1, 2, 3, 4).



Activist Post reports regularly about Teslas and unsafe technology.  For more information, visit our archives.

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