On Monday, Param Sharma, who VICE once called a "brat king," was arrested in Oakland by California Highway Patrol after they caught him sitting alone in the backseat of a moving Tesla with the "Autopilot" feature on.
Sharma, who has on multiple occasions over the course of years insisted that he shits in toilets that have sparkling water in them, posted a video on Instagram Monday that shows him in the backseat of a moving Tesla reading an article with the title "Man seen riding in the back seat of Tesla with no driver.” The article is about him, specifically sightings of him right before Highway Patrol arrested him. His foot is vaguely near the steering wheel.
California Highway Patrol told Motherboard Wednesday that they are launching a "full and thorough" investigation into Sharma that will include researching his very incriminating Instagram, where he goes by “GoldCollarLavish” and regularly uses “blue collar” as an insult. Sharma did not respond to Instagram direct messages from Motherboard.
“We are recommending charges to the district attorney’s office. It’s an active investigation so police report can’t be released,” a spokesperson for California’s Highway Patrol told Motherboard. “We’re conducting a thorough investigation that will consider the possibility of previous incidents and obviously his social media. With the investigation we consider everything and this will be thorough.”
The video previous to that shows him sitting in the back of his Tesla watching videos about Tesla while his Tesla drives. "I came outta the pandemic in a self driving car U blue blue collar peasants can’t understand my life," the caption of another post says.
“The California Highway Patrol (CHP) today announced it has arrested 25-year-old Param Sharma for reckless driving of a Tesla while in the backseat on Interstate 80 (I-80) in the Bay Area. Sharma was arrested without incident and booked into Santa Rita Jail on two counts of reckless driving and disobeying a Peace Officer. The Tesla was towed from the scene for evidence and this incident remains under investigation,” police said in a press release.
“An Oakland CHP motor officer at the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza located the Tesla, confirmed that a single occupant was seated in the backseat, and initiated an enforcement stop. The officer observed the individual move into the driver’s seat," CHP continued in its press release. "The occupant then brought the Tesla to a stop on the shoulder of I-80 eastbound just west of Powell Street, where the officer arrested Sharma. Prior to this arrest, members of the public had captured video of someone resembling Sharma operating his vehicle in the same reckless manner, and the CHP’s Oakland Area had cited Sharma on April 27 for similar behavior.”
This comes after two men in Spring, Texas were killed when their Tesla crashed into a tree and exploded―no one was in the driver seat then either. Immediately after, a debate emerged as people doubted whether it was possible to activate Tesla’s “self-driving” features without someone in the driver seat, implying that perhaps the passengers had moved to the backseat after the crash.
All this inflamed further by Tesla CEO Elon Musk lying and saying that there was no evidence the Autopilot function was active in the vehicle. A preliminary NTSB report found that at least one Autopilot function was active, however, at the time of the crash.
In fact, according to a memo from the legal transparency group PlainSite, Tesla's director of Autopilot software told the California Department of Motor Vehicles that Musk was exaggerating the software's capabilities. "Elon's tweet does not match engineering reality per CJ. Tesla is at Level 2 currently," the DMV said, meaning it requires active supervision from a human. The DMV was referring to a January conference call where Musk told investors he was "highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of humans this year."