Who gets the million-dollar Dorner reward?

posted at 12:01 pm on February 15, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

When the LAPD offered a reward to find Christopher Dorner, they didn’t kid around.  The one million dollar reward was the largest offered for a domestic criminal in the US, a sign of just how badly they wanted to catch the triple murderer and self-proclaimed revolutionary. But now that Dorner’s remains have been positively identified in the burnt-out cabin in Big Bear, who gets to claim the reward?

CBS wonders whether it should go to Karen and Jim Reynolds, the two hostages that escaped and called 911, alerting law enforcement to Dorner’s location:

But even as some questions are answered, new ones emerge — now about that hefty $1 million reward offered in the case. It was the largest local reward ever offered, according to Los Angeles’ Chief of Police Charlie Beck, who announced the reward when the police were on high alert, the entire region nervously wondering where the next shooting might be.

Just two days later Dorner was cornered in a fiery gun battle that came just after two separate sightings reported to police.

Karen Reynolds with her husband Jim called 911 to report Dorner had tied them up and stolen their car, potentially making them good candidates for the money. Karen Reynolds 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.”

Another candidate could be the carjacking victim that preceded the Reynolds’ brief captivity:

Another possible candidate: Rick Heltebrake. He was carjacked by Dorner, and says he reported that immediately to a local sheriff’s deputy. Heltebrake said, “I called him directly. He goes, ‘Whatcha got, Rick?’ I said, ‘Paul, he just took my truck.’ “

However, none of them should plan any large cash purchases in the immediate future.  CBS also reports that the LAPD may not pay any reward at all — because Dorner didn’t get “captured and convicted”:

But it may not be who gets the reward, but whether anyone does. It may have been offered with a catch: capture and conviction.

Beck said at the time the reward was offered, “The reward is for the capture and conviction.”

No one is that bad at public relations, though — not even Los Angeles.  It won’t be the LAPD’s decision anyway.  Both the mayor and the chief of police punted the question to the coalition of 20 groups that put up the money for the reward.  I’m going to guess that they will split the reward between the three people who fingered Dorner to San Bernardino County deputies and the families of the two officers slain in the shootout that ended Dorner’s life.

CBS also follows up on the allegations that deputies deliberately torched the cabin to kill Dorner rather than capture him.  They verified the audio capturing the radio traffic that had deputies urging each other to burn Dorner out, but also note that the exchange took place four hours before the cabin caught fire, apparently from the teargas canisters used:

Let’s not forget that these officers were under hostile fire at the time, and had seen two of their fellow deputies shot by Dorner.  Emotions were running high, but they managed to restrain themselves for several hours before deploying the teargas.  This is a mighty slender thread on which to hang a conspiracy theory.

We’ll give the last word to Ta-Nehisi Coates (via Instapundit), who marvels at the sanctification of Dorner as a symbol of police reform, specifically for the LAPD … after shooting two people to death because one of them happened to seriously piss him off.  Isn’t that the kind of police behavior that we’d like to reform? “I don’t really know how anyone, with any sort of coherence, adopts Christopher Dorner as a symbol in the fight against police brutality, given how he brutalized those two human beings.”


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