The city of Riverside became the first entity to publicly rescind its reward offer for fugitive ex-cop Christopher Dorner, saying its $100,000 bounty won’t be paid out because there was no arrest and conviction.
The Riverside City Council passed a resolution during the 10-day rampage attributed to Dorner offering $100,000 for information leading to his “arrest and conviction,” according to Riverside city spokeswoman Cindie Perry.
But “because the conditions were not met, there will not be a payment of a reward by the city,” Perry wrote in an email Monday night.
More than 25 municipalities and organizations offered rewards totaling more than $1 million when the former Los Angeles police officer -- who authorities said wrote a manifesto promising revenge for his 2009 firing -- was on the run in February.
Dorner is believed to have killed Riverside police Officer Michael Crain; San Bernardino County sheriff’s Deputy Jeremiah MacKay; Monica Quan, the daughter of a retired LAPD captain; and Quan’s fiance, Keith Lawrence, a USC public safety officer.
The search ended Feb. 12 in Big Bear, where Dorner apparently committed suicide while cornered in a burning cabin.
Two claims have been made for the reward money — by a couple near Big Bear who were tied up and whose car was stolen and by a man whose pickup truck Dorner later hijacked. But some of the groups that pledged the funds are now reconsidering their offers.
“I’ve spoken with some groups — including a few that are substantial — that have already decided to withdraw their pledges,” said Ron Cottingham, president of the 64,000-member union Peace Officers Research Assn. of California, which has placed its own pledge on hold pending additional information. “They said the reward doesn’t fit their criteria.”
The LAPD says the money should be paid. LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said that to deny someone the reward because Dorner died before he could be put on trial “would be disingenuous” and would undermine future attempts by police to get information about unsolved crimes by offering rewards.
Much of the confusion surrounding the conditions of the reward began with the language L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa used in his announcement. Donors specified that the money they pledged was for Dorner’s arrest and conviction.
But Villaragoisa used the word “capture” in his public remarks — and that could be interpreted to include being surrounded in a cabin before committing suicide.
Later in the news conference announcing the reward, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said pointedly: “For those of you with questions about how the reward works: The reward is for the capture and the conviction.”
Further clouding the issue is the language of a written statement the LAPD issued saying the reward was “for information leading to the apprehension and conviction” of Dorner. The department recently proposed replacing that phrase with “identification and capture.” State and local law enforcement unions that pledged money rejected the change.
Also underlying the objections is a moral argument that donors will not make publicly. Some find the claims for the money unseemly. They believe reward seekers had called police to report they were victims of crimes by Dorner and now seek to profit from their brief encounters, which left them unharmed, during a rampage that devastated the families of police officers and of others he killed.
LAPD officials said a group of detectives investigating the Dorner case will make a recommendation to the donors regarding whether certain people were instrumental in catching Dorner and how much money they deserve.
Vicki Curry, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said money for a reward was solicited before any decisions were made about terms or conditions. “It came together fairly quickly over that weekend in the midst of the chaos, and now we’ve got to figure it out,” she said.
Curry, who said she was unaware of any turmoil among the donor group, said that even if some donors do back away from their commitments to contribute to the reward, the $1-million total will not be lowered.