Will a legal loophole prevent a reward from being paid in the Christopher Dorner case?
In the midst of a tense manhunt for the fugitive ex-cop who had already killed three people in his vendetta against his former comrades, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck issued a $1 million reward, the largest local reward offered in the city’s history, for the “capture and conviction” of Dorner.
Karen Reynolds and her husband, Jim, were about to clean their rental condo around noon local time Tuesday in the San Bernardino mountains when they walked in on Dorner. The couple said Dorner tied them up and stole their car. Karen was able to free herself and call 911.
Later that afternoon, Dorner crashed the Reynolds' vehicle. Rick Heltebrake, who was sitting inside his white pickup truck with his Dalmatian, said Dorner emerged from the trees pointing a gun at him.
"I don't want to hurt you; just get out and start walking up the road and take your dog," Heltebrake said Dorner told him.
Heltebrake said he immediately contacted authorities after the carjacking.
Dorner continued driving until he eventually ditched Heltebrake's car. He then ran into the woods and barricaded himself at a cabin near Big Bear Lake, California. The ensuing gunfight led to the death of a deputy and another being wounded. The cabin caught fire after police shot tear gas canisters inside. Dorner's charred remains were later found inside and identified Thursday.
When asked about getting the reward money, Karen said, “We didn’t even think about any of that until sitting around the sheriff’s station. We just kind of started joking about it.”
CNN’s Randi Kaye talked to Heltebrake, and he said he deserves the reward money. He said he planned to talk to a lawyer and start the process of putting in a claim for the reward.
“Did anyone ever believe he was going to be captured and convicted, I don’t think so,” Heltebrake said. “I think they put that in there, possibly to have an out for later. I believe that money was put up by the private sector and basically corporate donors, not from taxpayer money or anything like that, and I believe they wanted that money to go somewhere.”
Heltebrake said if he got the reward money, he would put it toward a college fund. He said he would give $100,000 to each family who lost a loved one in Dorner’s shooting rampage.
Heltebrake said the Reynolds also deserves a share of the money, and he said he’s willing to split it with them.
In a joint statement, Beck and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said there is a discussion taking place about who should get the reward.
"More than 20 jurisdictions and entities are involved in this reward, so all of them will be coming together to collectively determine whether any individual or individuals qualify for it,'" the statement read. "Our personal hope is that the reward will be distributed, but we must follow the rules and respect the procedures of each entity."
Who do you think deserves the reward money? Do you think there should be some sort of compromise, or should officials go by “the letter of the law?” Share your thoughts in the comments below.