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LAPD: 3 former judges to decide on $1-million Dorner reward

April 05, 2013|By Joseph Serna and Louis Sahagun
  • A digital billboard along Santa Monica Boulevard on the west side of Los Angeles shows a "wanted" alert for former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner.
A digital billboard along Santa Monica Boulevard on the west side of Los… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)

The Los Angeles Police Department said Friday that three retired judges will determine who gets the $1-million Christopher Dorner reward. Officials said people have until April 19 to claim their portion of the money.

The reward – a collection of smaller donations from more than two dozen agencies, groups and individuals – was initially offered for Dorner’s “capture and  conviction.”

However, that’s “irrelevant” under the new criteria, officials said, because Dorner was chased into a cabin in Big Bear, where he eventually shot himself.

FULL COVERAGE: Sweeping manhunt for ex-cop

Dorner was a former Los Angeles police officer who was fired and subsequently went on a revenge-fueled hunt across four Southern California counties. Police say he killed two police officers and a police officer’s daughter and her fiance.

Overshadowing the matter are two claims that have been made on the reward since Dorner's death Feb. 12 -- by a couple near Big Bear who were tied up and whose car was stolen by Dorner, and by a man whose pickup truck Dorner later hijacked.

The city of Riverside and a state police union--the 64,000-member Peace Officers Research Assn. of California--have pulled their money from the pot, arguing that Dorner was not convicted, therefore no one is entitled to the reward.

TIMELINE: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

"We made a pledge based on very specific information and criteria," said Ron Cottingham, the union's president. "Now everything has changed. It is not what our board of directors voted on."

Los Angeles officials were not swayed. Despite not being able to bring Dorner to trial, officials have insisted the reward should still be paid.

Others among the roughly 25-member donor group are considering whether to follow Riverside and the Peace Officers Research Assn. of California. Most notably, the head of the L.A. Police Protective League, which represents rank-and-file LAPD officers, said his group is weighing its options.

WHO THEY WERE: Victims in the Dorner case

"As of this morning, there is $1 million available in the reward fund, and we are pretty confident that it will stay at a million dollars," Lt. Andy Neiman said. 

He noted that there is no legal commitment regarding those who pledged money but decided to withdraw it.

The latest about-face further complicates matters for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who have dug in amid the mounting concern by other donors. Vicki Curry, a spokeswoman for the mayor, had vowed that no matter how many groups withdraw, there would still be a $1-million reward offered.

LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, who is coordinating the reward for Beck, has said that while it is up to each donor to decide whether it wants to follow through on its pledge, it would be "disingenuous" to withdraw the reward altogether simply because Dorner was not brought to trial.

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Joseph.serna@latimes.com

louis.sahagun@latimes.com

@josephserna

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