3 retired judges to determine who gets $1-million Dorner reward

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck talks to reporters about Christopher Dorner, pictured at left, a former LAPD officer who went on a shooting rampage in February.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Three retired judges will determine who gets the $1-million Christopher Dorner reward, the Los Angeles Police Department said Friday. Claimants will have until April 19 to request their portion of the money.

The reward — a collection of smaller donations from numerous agencies, groups and individuals — was initially offered for Dorner’s “capture and conviction.”

However, that’s “irrelevant” under the new criteria, according to new reward guidelines, because Dorner, a former LAPD officer who killed four, was chased into a cabin near Big Bear, where he eventually shot himself.


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.

It was unclear whether the new reward criteria will prompt the 64,000-member Peace Officers Research Assn. of California to reconsider its recent decision to withdraw a $50,000 pledge to the Dorner reward.

“Our board made a ruling, and we have to follow it,” Ron Cottingham, the union’s president, said. “What could happen now is the board could come back together and decide whether or not to possibly come up with a new ruling given the new circumstances.”

Those looking for a payout may still have to meet the criteria of individual donors, according to an outline of the reward procedures distributed Friday.

Donors can recommend what portion of the money claimants should receive, if any. Law enforcement officials can rank the help they received from the claimants as “vital; helpful but not essential; or of no value,” to finding Dorner.

The money will be put in a trust fund operated by the Los Angeles-based Richards, Watson and Gershon law firm. The recipients will be publicly announced and forfeit their chance to appeal the judges’ decision when they apply for the money.

Any money that’s not awarded will be returned, prorated, to the contributing agencies.

Others among the roughly 25-member donor group have been considering whether to follow the Peace Officers Research Assn. of California, as well as the city of Riverside, in withdrawing their pledges. Most notably, the head of the L.A. Police Protective League, which represents rank-and-file officers with the Los Angeles Police Department, said his group is weighing its options.

“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,” LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman said.

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

Claimants who do not file formal submissions will not be eligible for the reward, regardless of their importance in the Dorner manhunt.

“This is an extraordinary circumstance and unlike any other reward in the history of Los Angeles,” Neiman said. “It necessitated the creation of a formalized submission-of-reward-claims process.”

“Any person who wishes to be considered for a reward must submit their claim in writing,” he added, “according to the procedures published” Friday.

The $1-million reward was created and currently operates separate and apart from official city of Los Angeles business.

“At this time, that million reward is operating outside the guidelines set forth in the City Charter,” William W. Carter, L.A.'s chief deputy city attorney, said in an interview, “and that is because it’s beyond the $100,000 limit set for the city.”

“The city’s potential liability is for $100,000,” he added.