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5 Houston-area officers injured in crash sue Tesla over autopilot feature

The lawsuit claims an alleged drunk driver had Tesla's autopilot feature on, which didn't recognize the flashing blue lights of the first responders' vehicles.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas — Five Houston-area law enforcement officers are suing Tesla claiming the company's autopilot feature led to a crash in which they were injured.

In the overnight hours of Feb. 27, 2021, investigators with the Splendora Police Department said a man who was drunk behind the wheel of his Tesla crashed into a traffic stop. At the time, the patrol cruisers had their blue lights activated.

RELATED: Intoxicated driver injures several officers conducting traffic stop in Splendora, deputies say

Four Montgomery County Precinct 4 deputy constables and a Splendora police officer were not inside their vehicles at the time of the impact. They all suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Attorney Tony Buzbee is representing the officers and filed the lawsuit on Monday.

“This vehicle was on autopilot,” Buzbee said. “When it’s on autopilot it fails to detect vehicles with flashing lights, i.e., first responders.”

The lawsuit claims a defect in Tesla’s Autopilot system doesn’t recognize flashing lights. Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating Tesla’s Autopilot and has flagged 11 similar crashes that have happened since 2018.

“These officers, these deputy constables, were very brave to bring this case and we are going to make Tesla accountable,” Buzbee said.

Buzbee said the lawsuit seeks to correct the alleged problem with the autopilot and wants the company to offer more warnings about its system. The lawsuit also seeks monetary damages, at least $1 million per officer.

Pappas Restaurant Group is named in the suit, too, for allegedly overserving the driver. In a statement, Anna Marchand, general counsel for Pappas, wrote, “We have only just received this complaint and will be conducting an investigation into its allegations. Our thoughts and prayers are with the officers involved. We want to thank the Montgomery County constables for all they do for our community.”

Tesla does not have a public relations department and has not responded to media inquiries in the recent past.

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Read the entire lawsuit here: