Dorner manhunt: No charges against Torrance cop who shot at pickup

Dorner manhunt: No charges against Torrance cop who shot at pickup
David Perdue rests on the couch, next to his wife, Lyzzette, in their Redondo Beach home last February. His car was fired upon by Torrance police who mistook it for that of suspected killer Christopher Dorner. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

A Torrance police officer who mistakenly shot at a man during the massive manhunt for ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner will not face criminal charges, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office declined to press charges against Officer Brian McGee, who opened fire at close-range last February on an innocent driver.


In a 16-page report explaining its decision, the district attorney's office said McGee made a "reasonable mistake of fact" and the officer was "acting under an actual belief" that he needed to defend himself.

At the time, McGee and his partner were part of a massive dragnet across Southern California searching for Dorner, who had vowed to exact revenge against those he blamed for his firing at LAPD and named suspects he intended to kill.

Dorner, who authorities say killed four people, died several days later from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was cornered by police.

In the early morning of Feb. 7, LAPD officers were stationed in Torrance to protect an LAPD captain named in Dorner's manifesto.

David Perdue, who was 38 at the time, was driving to pick up a friend and go surfing that morning when he was stopped by Torrance police and told to turn around.

He'd driven less than 300 feet when another Torrance police unit mistook Perdue, who is a slight white man and was driving a Honda Ridgeline, for Dorner, who was black and described as driving a Nissan Titan.

After turning around, Perdue's truck was broadsided by another Torrance police cruiser, driven by McGee. The officer then shot at least three rounds at close-range into the Perdue's driver side window.

Perdue was not shot, but his attorney said he sustained back and head injuries that left him unable to work.

The incident was one of two mistaken-identity shootings related to the Dorner manhunt.

That same morning, LAPD officers opened fire on a Latina mother and her adult daughter, who were delivering newspapers in a truck nearby.

The city of Los Angeles paid the women cash for a new truck and settled their case for $4.2 million. The city of Torrance has compensated Perdue $20,000 for the damage to his truck.

Both incidents drew sharp criticism and raised questions about how the officers could have mistook the victims for Dorner.

In the report, prosecutors say McGee and his colleagues were "extremely anxious" and "on high alert," as a result of Dorner's threats, and that he was "justified in using force to stop the vehicle and in discharging his firearm."

"McGee was forced to make a split-second decision to take action based on a rapidly evolving situation," the report continued. "Although mistaken, McGee honestly and reasonably believed that Dorner was driving the truck."


In a statement, Robert Sheahen, an attorney for Perdue, said the officers' accounts of the incident were "riddled with factual fantasy" and "accepted at face value" by prosecutors.

"The idea that you can justify a police shooting based on anxiety and panic is beyond the pale," Sheahen told The Times on Wednesday. "Anxiety and panic have no place in law enforcement. These are the people we entrust with weapons."

Calls to the Torrance Police Department for comment were not returned, and city officials declined to comment.

Sheahen said the district attorney's decision has no bearing on a federal lawsuit currently awaiting trial Aug. 12.

[For the record, Jan. 17: An earlier version of this post misidentified Perdue's vehicle. He was driving a Honda Ridgeline, not a Honda Highlander.]

Twitter: @cmaiduc