Tesla was hit with a lawsuit Monday from five Texas cops who say they were injured when a Model X on “autopilot” mode plowed into them during a traffic stop.
The five cops say they were left with “severe injuries and permanent disabilities” and are seeking $20 million in damages.
“The officers want to hold Tesla accountable, and force Tesla to publicly acknowledge and immediately correct the known defects inherent in its Autopilot and collision avoidance systems,” reads the suit.
The accident is one of at least 11 autopilot-involved accidents currently under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The Texas crash occurred shortly after midnight on Feb. 27 in Splendora, a suburb north of Houston, according to the suit.
The police officers had allegedly pulled over a vehicle in the right-hand lane of an expressway and were conducting a search using a drug-sniffing dog. Two police Chevrolet Tahoes with their emergency lights flashing were blocking the right lane of traffic during the search, according to the suit.
Suddenly, a 2019 Model X Tesla going 70 miles per hour in autopilot mode slammed into the Tahoes, pushing them forward into the officers, the driver of the vehicle that had been pulled over and the drug-sniffing dog, according to the suit.
“The Tesla was completely unable to detect the existence of at least four vehicles, six people and a German Shepherd fully stopped in the lane of traffic,” reads the suit. “The Tahoes were declared a total loss. The police officers and the civilian were taken to the hospital, and Canine Officer Kodiak had to visit the vet.”
While the lawsuit does not go into details about injuries, local television station KTRK reported at the time that the cops suffered scrapes and back injuries, as well as a possible broken arm.
None of the officers’ injuries were life-threatening, but the driver of the original that was being searched was taken to the hospital in critical condition, the station reported citing police sources.
Tesla — which is building a Cybertruck factory outside Austin — did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
“Tesla and Elon Musk have known for years that a Tesla using Autopilot fails to detect vehicles using flashing lights,” said Tony Buzbee, an attorney for the officers, in a statement to The Post. “Many police officers, like those in this case, have been badly injured because of this defect, and thousands of others at this very moment across the United States are at risk.”
Monday’s suit comes as Tesla bucks concerns raised by regulators and rolls out the beta version of its “full self-driving” feature to potentially hundreds of thousands of drivers.
While autopilot is primarily used on highways, full self-driving is meant for less predictable city streets.
Monday’s suit was filed by officers Dalton Fields, Rai Duenas, Kenneth Barnett, Chris Taylor and Daniel Santiago It also names a local restaurant, Pappasito’s Cantina, as a defendant for allegedly overserving alcohol to the driver before the crash.
Pappasito’s did not immediately reply to a request for comment.