Riverside County supervisors today authorized the payment of $100,000 -- to be split three ways -- to people who filed claims for a reward for information leading to the apprehension of ex-cop Christopher Jordan Dorner, who went on a rampage in February, allegedly killing four people, including a Riverside police officer, before killing himself.
The Board of Supervisors actually posted the $100,000 reward the day after Dorner shot himself in a burning cabin near Big Bear, surrounded by law enforcement officers. According to board Chairman John Benoit, the decision to go ahead with offering the reward was based on lack of absolute certainty at the time that the person who died in the cabin was Dorner.
Supervisor Kevin Jeffries questioned whether the county was ``morally and ethically obligated'' to disburse the funds since there never had been an actual apprehension. But Benoit said the county should make good on the reward offer.
``Maybe there is something to learn from this process. But we are morally obligated to make this reward money available,'' Benoit said.
Supervisor Jeff Stone said the people receiving the funds ``acted in good faith'' and should not be denied what they had coming to them.
``By giving this reward, we are saying that we value the lives of our public safety officers,'' Stone said.
Authorities believe Dorner went on a 10-day killing rampage of revenge against law enforcement officials, whom he blamed for his 2008 firing from the Los Angeles Police Department. He is thought 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.
The county's reward is independent of any other rewards offered in connection with the Dorner case, including a $1 million bounty posted by the city of Los Angeles and other entities.
The recipients of the Riverside County funds are:
-- R. Lee McDaniel, a Corona tow truck driver;
-- Daniel McGowan, a Snow Summit ski resort employee in Big Bear; and
-- James and Karen Reynolds, a couple who own the Big Bear Lake condominium in which Dorner holed up during the manhunt.
McDaniel will receive $5,000 for alerting Los Angeles police officers that Dorner was in the city of Corona in the predawn hours of Feb. 7.
McGowan will receive $15,000 for alerting San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies about a burning pickup truck -- later confirmed to be Dorner's -- abandoned on a rarely used mountain road on the morning of Feb. 7. Only hours earlier, Dorner had allegedly engaged two LAPD officers in a gunfight in Corona and had ambushed and killed Crain and wounded his partner, Riverside police Officer Andrew Tachias.
The Reynolds were attacked by Dorner when they entered their condo on the afternoon of Feb. 12. The murder suspect tied them up and stole their Nissan SUV. The couple were able to free themselves, and Karen Reynolds called 911, providing a description of the SUV, which California Department of Fish & Wildlife wardens spotted 20 minutes later, leading to a pursuit that culminated in Dorner taking refuge in another cabin, from which he allegedly shot and killed MacKay and wounded another lawman.
Two reward claimants -- Riverside taxi driver Karam Kaoud and Boy Scout camp supervisor Rick Heltebrake -- were denied any funds.
Kaoud came to the aid of Crain and Tachias after the Riverside police officers were shot. A three-judge panel that reviewed the claims and made recommendations to the board -- and to other cities that offered reward funds -- found that while Kaoud acted selflessly, he did not provide substantive information that helped law enforcement locate Dorner.
The panel made the same finding with respect to Heltebrake, whose white pickup truck Dorner carjacked after crashing the Reynolds' SUV.
Heltebrake's attorney argued today that his client was entitled to ``all of the reward money'' for contacting deputies immediately after Dorner stole his pickup. According to the three-judge panel, law enforcement officers were already chasing Dorner when Heltebrake made his call.