The Cop that Killed Milt Olin Could be Charged With Vehicular Manslaughter…

  • Save

Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.  And when something stinks this badly, there’s usually a huge pile of s%*t.  Which brings us to the messy aftermath surrounding just-killed music industry executive Milt Olin: according to a pair of sources speaking confidentially to Digital Music News, the Los Angeles County Sheriff that mauled the former Napster COO last Friday could be held liable for a range of charges, including negligence, involuntary manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and wrongful death, among others.  “[Milt] was killed while riding in the bike lane, [Milt] smashed into the driver’s side [of the] windshield,” one source with ties to the situation shared.

“I think the family is considering its options and that could include a lawsuit.  They aren’t getting any answers [from the Sheriff’s Department].”

  • Save

The LA County Sheriff’s Department has not yet responded to an inquiry from Digital Music News (the LAPD has also been contacted).  Earlier, the Department indicated that an investigation was underway, but declined to name the Sheriff involved and did not disclose any conclusions or findings.  The officer was traveling in the same direction as Olin, and not responding to an emergency, according to several reports.

At issue, basically, is what caused the Sheriff from somehow veering into the bike lane where Olin was riding on Mulholland Drive, without any known interference or unforeseen circumstance (that we know of).  Or, wrongdoing on Olin’s part.  “Cops have computers attached to their dashboards, I know that,” the second (and emotional) source relayed, also in confidence.

“We can’t text while driving, that’s the law for a reason.  So this raises some questions over what exactly was happening.”

Another question is whether any serious investigation is actually happening.  The Sheriff’s Department is officially investigating, but they are also investigating themselves.  Certainly, a range of technologies and methods exist to reconstruct situations like these: skid marks, for example, can be examined to determine whether reckless driving or negligence was involved (and that goes for the absence of skid marks as well).  Vehicular braking patterns can also be used to determine if drugs and/or alcohol were involved, though reports indicate that no substances were interfering with the Sheriff’s driving.

This could catapult into a very emotional issue for many music industry executives, at least judging by the level of response and inquiry received so far.  In the days after the death, a number of executives called Digital Music News to vehemently complain about our coverage (we’ve focused too heavily on Olin’s Napster position, for example), the delays in our coverage (following the Sunday incident), or simply to share details about a possible investigation or legal action.

But perhaps the biggest smoking gun could be this: an in-dash camera on the cop car, which may have been recording during the incident.  According to local newspaper The Acorn, the dashcam on this particular patrol car was enabled.

Regardless of how these issues resolve, one thing is certain: this was an individual that was extremely well-liked and well-regarded, at least judging from numerous calls and emails received by DMN.  Olin, whose career also included a long stretch at A&M Records, was most recently working for the law firm he co-founded, Altschul & Olin LLP.


41 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Hm, not sure why anyone here except the usual pirates would give a ****.

    • Anonymous is a mouse!

      OK you little Anonymouse!
      First, the music industry evolved with digital models, and it would have happened one way or another. Today it’s in the pooper down from $38B during the Napster days to $16.5B today.

      So, even with your PHD at ignorance U, they didn’t teach you the facts:
      1) Hilary Rosen and the RIAA were after Napster. (of course)
      2) Bertelsmann (BMG) came in as an investor and owner which helped Napster. As one of the RIAA’s bosses given that the RIAA is for the labels, it was a good thing to open the door to genius compromise Milt was building.
      3) There was a negotation on the table with ALL the major labels to give them a big part of Napster (much more than 50%) and make everyone happy. They would have owned the digital music business.
      4) A lead partner at Greylock, a key VC with Napster got greedy and didn’t want to give as much as the labels wanted.
      5) Hilary Rosen couldn’t care less anyway, so she had her open window and convinced the labels to walk way from the table. The labels stopped showing up to negotiate and the label ownership deal fell through. (and they were so close to saving the music business)
      6) Napster died
      7) Apple came in and bulldozed the labels over and owned the digital music business. (Still 75% today) Apple gets half of the money. Cut Apple out and more money for artists!

      So, in the end, if Mr. Olin would have succeeded, the labels would own a single service, called Napster with a billion users by now and completely controlled the destiny of the the music business. And ya know, they would have release video as well and own the music video industry as well which YouTube has built where they continually screw the artists out of royalties, because it’s just too easy to listen and download the music off YouTube.

      Olin was there as a brilliant rainmaker. If not for some greedy VC, he would have pulled off the biggest deal in music history and the health of the industry would be a lot different today.

      I can’t say it would have been as good for the consumer to have the labels maintain the control they always have had historically, but for certain it would have been better for the artists. They are the ones that get screwed by all these new fangled, low revenue digital business models such as Spotify, piracy and more. And a healthly industry would be good for the consumer as music would be thriving much more today.

      You see, Anonymouse, a simple lesson: Consumers would have paid Napster a $10 per month fee in 2003 and they still would todau. Well here’s some math for you mouse-man. (are you a man or mouse?) The global music business tanked. it’s a $16.5B industry nowl Well, even 400 MM consumers at say a yearly price of $70 would generate a $28B music industry. And the consumers would get all the music they want and be happy to pay.

      Ahh, that’s what Olin was doing, SAVING THE BUSINESS
      Your lesson is complete.

      Have a lovely day, Anonymouse.

      • Lara Lavi

        Milt Olin was my friend and one of my mentors. As an artist (on A&M) he and I laughed while fighting over tour support money. He got his internet ministry license and married me and my husband ( I married my bass player) on the roof of the House of Blues in New Orleans during Jazz Fest years and years ago. His wife Louise is overlooked in all these articles and there would be no legacy of Milt Olin without his powerful and supportive wife Louise. She created a home life for Milt and the boys that made every brilliant thing he did happen. And I agree with everything you just wrote about Milt as a visionary who could have saved the music industry or at least kept a larger piece for the artists because at least with the labels, the artists GOT a piece. Now we are artists are forced to use our music as a lost leader/marketing tool and only make our money on touring and merchandise and synch placement if we are lucky. Milt knew exactly what he was doing and he was right.
        Lara Lavi, artist, entertainment lawyer, entrepreneur, business owner, friend, chick singer in a band

        • Anonymous

          “Milt as a visionary who could have saved the music industry”

          lol, geez…

          Too bad everything turned out rather — differently, wouldn’t you say?

          • Anonymous is a troll

            I think Milt would laugh at this, and then feel sorry your life sucks so much.

        • Anonymous is a mouse!

          Thanks Lara for your warm thoughts. Indeed, you bring up the pains that all artists understand.

      • Anonymous

        Um, let me repeat what happened while Mr. Olin was Napster’s COO:

        * Napster stole music from Metallica, Dr. Dre and Madonna.
        * Napster refused to remove the stolen content.
        * Napster was sued and sued again.
        * Napster lost in court and appealed — and lost again.
        * Napster went bankrupt.

        And again: Yes most people have friends, or at least dogs, that will miss them when they’re gone, and I’m sure Mr. Olin wasn’t an exception.

        But that’s still not relevant here. What’s relevant here, to some extent, is the fact that a guy who worked for a seriously hated organized copyright crime gang is dead and gone.

        Just like the original Napster.

    • Fretts

      Apparently few remember the fact that after the original Napster was shut down, it was reborn as a legit business. Milt came in during that Napster 2.0 era and was instrumental in getting the new legal Napster up and running.

    • Anonymous

      And don’t forget that strange umbrella man on the grassy knoll.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      There’s an entire body of law and precedent to deal with ‘accidents’ like these. One assessment is involuntary manslaughter, which is a punishment with serious legal ramifications but importantly does not include pre-meditated intent.

      But, if ‘accidents’ could just be written off as non-crimes, as you might be suggesting, then we’d have a problem. If I take a right turn and accidentally run over you — even in the dark, even in the rain, etc. — there’s a level of liability that I should carry. I think we all want laws like these.

      Now, if I drive towards you with the intent to run over you because you’re sleeping with my girlfriend, then we’re suddenly having a completely different discussion with far more serious consequences.

  2. jeff Chambers

    Very sad. I knew milt and his family. I do hope an investigation will persue.

  3. Put Down Your Phones

    As an everyday bike commuter in LA and as someone who works in the music industry this story has my interest twofold.

    It’s been reported on the bike blogs as well but unfortunately this kind of thing happens all the time so it’s already been pushed to the bottom of the page by the daily roll call of entitled drivers running over cyclists. I can tell you what usually goes down is the motorist says “I didn’t see him/her” and they are given a $300 ticket and go merrily on their way. Yes, even when they kill someone.

    What normally doesn’t happen is any kind of meaningful investigation but since this was an upstanding member of the community (affluent white person) we expect at least some kind of detective work to be done as opposed to when it’s Joe Average and then it’s “condolences to the family of the deceased; buy a car”.

    The fact that this is gaining traction is good of course. Cyclists have been advocating for justice and due diligence by law enforcement/prosecutors for years now … to no avail.

    Put down your phones people. You are literally killing innocent people with your selfishness.

  4. Canislupus

    Stinks to High Heaven of a Washington Administrative Coverup… Fast & (I’m) Furious, Benghazi, IRS, and all the rest… “OlinGate Coverup” is going to be the title of this one.

  5. Anonymous

    24 years working at A&M Records does not make a “stint”…..

  6. Todd McGee

    Just heard the news. Milt was a good friend to me always. I am shock. RIP.

  7. Mike

    Why don’t you wait until the trial?
    How do we know the police officer killed that man?

    Perhaps he was drunk and fell on the car with his bike.

    Why does every internet user have to be a judge these days…

    • Paul Resnikoff


      There are several facts that are not disputed, that’s why. The Los Angeles Country Sheriff’s Department has said that the patrol car struck Milt Olin while he was riding his bicycle, killing him.

      The other part is really simple: what killed Milt Olin? A patrol car. That was being driven by the unnamed Sheriff.

      Other aspects remain uncertain and need to be clarified by the investigation, like:

      (a) state of the Sheriff during the incident (under the influence, distracted by in-dash computer, etc.)

      (b) external incidents or issues that could have led to the crash (animal crossing the road, emergency call to the Sheriff, rock hitting the windshield, etc.)

      (c) exact position of Mr. Olin immediately prior to crash

      • Anonymous

        Paul, we all know that Mr. Olin was an extremely hated man.

        And we all know why:

        He had a job — and not just any job, mind you — in the worst, organized copyright crime gang that existed at the time. This gang indisputably damaged music more than most other criminal organizations, and most of the crimes it committed and all the legal problems that killed Napster began under his watch.

        But I do believe it may be too early to conclude that aliens, KGB and/or evil songwriters were involved in his death.

        • GGG

          Funny, because Napster started in 1999 and shut down in 2001, and A&M, Milt’s old label, was the one named in the lawsuit.

          Did you come yet? Because really, it’s getting kinda gross at this point.

          • Anonymous

            Here’s what happened while Mr. Olin was Napster’s COO:

            * Napster stole music from Metallica, Dr. Dre and Madonna.
            * Napster refused to remove the stolen content.
            * Napster was sued and sued again.
            * Napster lost in court and appealed — and lost again.
            * Napster went bankrupt.

        • George Regis

          To “Anonymous,”

          Your vile remarks about Milt, made while hiding behind “Anonymous,” are shameful. Your “we all know” statement is patently stupid and uninformed.

          Identify yourself or shut up and go away.

          • Anonymous

            “Your “we all know” statement is patently stupid and uninformed.”

            On the contraray, it was a fair response to Paul’s patently stupid — or at least utterly wrong 🙂 — comment that Mr. Olin was ‘extremely well-liked’.

            And it was a correct response because we all — this is DigitalMusicNews, right? — know that Mr. Olin worked for one of the world’s most notoriously hated organized crime gangs ever. We also know that this particulary hated gang was responsible for thousands of lost jobs, millions if not billions of lost dollars and probably a fair number of suicides. And we know that Mr. Olin worked for the gang at the very peak of its criminal history.

            Now, most people have friends, or at least dogs, that will miss them when they’re gone, and I’m sure Mr. Olin wasn’t an exception.

            It’s just not relevant. What’s relevant, to some extent, is the fact that a guy who worked for a notoriously hated organized copyright crime gang is dead and gone.

            Just like the original Napster.

          • George Regis

            I repeat: hiding behind “Anonymous” is shameful.

            Spew as much invective as you want, but either identify yourself or shut up and go away.

        • Susi Gilmartin

          Anonymous? YOU can best be described as a coward if you choose to remain nameless. The outpouring of love and admiration at the memorial service for Milt yesterday afternoon contradicts the bitterness and hatred you have displayed in your venomous remarks. No doubt your life is empty. Milt enriched many of us with his intellect, talent, humor, enthusiasm, and genuine friendship. Milt would want each of us to forgive you. So be it. You are forgiven.

  8. JK

    I don’t understand the criticism of DMN’s coverage of this story. Perhaps some other agenda lurks. 1. Olin’s work at Napster was undoubtedly his highest profile position. There is no public interest in his complete resume. 2. In a situation like this, legal action is always a possibility. So where’s the problem?

    • Anonymous

      “Olin’s work at Napster was undoubtedly his highest profile position. There is no public interest in his complete resume.”

      Spot on.

      What we often see in situations like this are former co-workers trying to rewrite history and whitewash their various criminal enterprises.

      Which in the case of Napster is a complete waste of time…

  9. Susi Gilmartin

    Memo to Mike: Milt was NOT drinking, jerk face! Milt was into health. He was careful when he rode his bike. Milt was in the bike lane. Milt was highly-respected, beloved, and an all-around GREAT guy!!! I have called TWICE to inquire about the investigation and have gotten nowhere other than one Sgt. Braden informing me that the deputy who drove INTO THE BIKE LANE AND KILLED Milt is undergoing counseling and very emotional … AS HE SHOULD BE! I am heartbroken. I had lunch with Milt a little more than a month earlier. Milt was full of life and the same Milt I had known for decades … full of hope … laughter … memories … and plans for the future.

  10. Joe Klein

    I met Milt back in the early 80’s when we both were partners in the well-known Hollywood Chinese eatery, music-performance space and hipster-hangout-extraordinaire, GENGHIS COHEN on Fairfax Avenue.

    We were never close, but had several mutual friends, and I have fond memories of hanging out with Milt at the restaurant on several occasions back in the day. He

    • Joe Klein

      (Continued from above sue to a lost internet connection) He was a great guy with a wry sense of humor that I found very amusing.

      Ironically, the last time I spoke with Milt was a little less than a year ago, following the sudden and untimely passing of Genghis Cohen’s founder, Allan Rinde, exactly one year ago today. Milt called to talk to me about the memorial being planned for Allan, to be held at the storied restaurant, which is still in business (under different ownership to this day. Sadly, I couldn’t make the event and hadn’t spoken with Milt since then.

      Life is so fleeting and fragile, my friends. This is not the time to be posthumously lambasting the man for his involvement with Napster or debating the good and evil points of P2P file sharing. Milt is gone. We should be celebrating his life and honoring his memory now. Pop-music history, in which Milt had a role, will ultimately serve to judge the character of this very decent man.

      Let us not rush to judgment here, but pray that this tragedy does not escape a thorough investigation and the ultimate resolution it deserves. If there was wrongdoing, negligence or other malfeasance that contributed to this horrible loss of a good life, the best we can hope for is that justice will be served. This is what Milt, himself, would want above all else.

      Gos bless Milt….and Peace On Earth to all.

  11. The Cop that Killed Milt Olin Could be Charged With Vehicular Manslaughter… - Right Kind of Revolution

    […] post The Cop that Killed Milt Olin Could be Charged With Vehicular Manslaughter… appeared first on Digital Music […]

  12. Truthteller

    I knew Milt and I knew him well. He was a throwback to a time when people were generally more decent, and less about flash and image. He was “old school” in a good way, and yet tolerant of others. He legitimately cared about those who he considered his friends. He never paid “lip service.” He was one of the smartest people you will ever meet. He would have read the comments of the spineless fool “Anonymous” and chuckled a bit about how uninformed the guy was. Anonymous – those of us who knew Milt, know that you are a pathetic sick worm masquerading as someone with knowledge, but that you don’t know what the f you are talking about. I am not as decent as Milt was. If I knew who you were Anonymous, I would beat the living shit out of you. And judging by who you appear to be, you would probably enjoy it. May Milt rest in peace.

    • Prince

      Anonymous is just a PROLAPSED idiot that can’t keep his shit from coming out of his mouth, so it has to come out of his heart. Anonymous just call it a day and just disappear‎.
      Websters Version: To stop being visible : to pass out of sight. : to stop existing : to die or go away completely. : to become lost. Are U Getting it?

  13. Chuck Lantz

    I was a close friend of Milt and his wife Louise when he was at UCLA, and on through his time at MSK. We lost touch when I moved from SoCal, but I watched his career with interest. Anyone who knew “Dook” – his nickname – knew that he loved the music industry, and was extremely protective of the rights of musicians.
    As others have mentioned, his involvement with Napster was as one of the good guys, who tried to save the company while also protecting the artists.

    The fact that he was killed riding his bike is especially sad, since he was deeply involved in the sport, including bike racing. Unless I hear otherwise, I have to assume that he was following the rules and in the bike lane. He wouldn’t have been taking chances. The Milt I knew was no fool. On the other hand, my view of the L.A. Sheriffs Department is not nearly as positive. And again, unless I hear otherwise, I have to assume, based on my experience with that department, that someone screwed up badly and that they will do whatever they can to cover-up and twist the facts of the accident. That’s just the way they are.

    Milt was a good friend and a great guy, in a tough industry. My heart goes out to Louise and his sons. He had a wonderful family, and he was insanely proud of his kids. I’ll miss you, Dook.

  14. Lost in the Hills

    Good luck. Lost hills is the lowest form of any south land law enforcement. Check any story that has a bad ending with them involved,.. and it’s never in favor of the public, much less for the public to even be concerned about in their opinion.