Published February 15, 2013
Fugitive ex-LAPD police officer Christopher Dorner's death in a mountain cabin inferno has been confirmed by dental records, but the $1.1 million price put on his head during his week on the lam may go uncollected.
The bounty was funded by private donations and announced by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck while Dorner was on the run after gunning down a couple in Irvine Calif., and shooting two police officers, killing one, in Riverside. Although several tips and brushes with the former cop and Navy man eventually led to police surrounding him in a cabin in San Bernardino, it now looks like no reward money will change hands.
The $1 million pledged by the city was "for information that will lead to Mr. Dorner's capture." Another $100,000 pledged by the L.A. City Council had similar language, stating the money was for information "leading to the identification, apprehension and conviction of Christopher Dorner."
Since Dorner was never captured, apprehended or convicted, and instead died Tuesday night during a dramatic standoff near Big Bear, Calif., when the cabin he barricaded himself in burned down with him inside, the terms were not met.
If officials take a looser view of the reward language, possible candidates for collection are Karen and Jim Reynolds, who called 911 after having been tied up by Dorner, who then stole their car.
"We didn't even think about any of that until sitting around the sheriff's station," Karen Reynolds told CBS. "We just kind of started joking about it.”
Another person who helped police zero in on Dorner was Rick Heltebrake, who contacted a local sheriff’s deputy after he was carjacked by Dorner.
"I called him directly. He goes, 'Whatcha got, Rick?' I said, 'Paul, he just took my truck,'" Heltebrake told the network.
Villaraigosa said the decision of whether to award the funds is up to the 20 different groups that agreed to contribute to the bounty pool. As for the $100,000, which now sits in the city's 'Special Reward Trust Fund,' the City Council will ultimately make the call, according to the Frank Mateljan, spokesman for the city attorney.
"Arguably, city law is broad enough to allow payment to persons who assisted in the "identification, apprehension OR arrest and conviction" of a suspect," Metaljan told ABC.
Others may have a claim, but they have to take certain steps, including applying in writing. Claim will be reviewed by the LAPD robbery and homicide division, and a recommendation would be made to the police commissioner and ultimately voted on by the City Council.
"Now that the search for Christopher Dorner has concluded, we are addressing the distribution of the $1 million reward," the LAPD said in a statement Friday afternoon. "Our personal hope is that the reward will be distributed, but we must follow the rules and respect the procedures of each entity."
The department said that no money can be distributed until the investigation is complete, "which takes time."