LOS ANGELES — A panel of three judges has decided that the vast majority of the $1 million reward offered in the manhunt for rogue ex-cop Christopher Dorner will go to a couple he tied up in their Southern California mountain cabin.
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The Los Angeles Police Department posted a document on its website Tuesday detailing the payouts for the much-sought reward, and it said about $800,000 will go to James and Karen Reynolds.
The judges wrote that they awarded the money according to the “comparative value of the information provided and how directly it causally led to Dorner’s capture.”
Daniel McGowan, who found Dorner’s burning truck in the Big Bear area where he eventually was discovered, will get $150,000, and $50,000 will go to tow truck driver R.L. McDaniel, who reported spotting Dorner at a gas station earlier in the manhunt.
Dorner had vowed warfare on LAPD officers and their families for what he called an unfair firing. He killed four people, including two law enforcement officers, during his nearly one-week run from authorities that ended with his death on Feb. 12.
The reward, gathered through dozens of law enforcement and other organizations, was announced by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief Charlie Beck during Dorner’s rampage, but details on the payout were murky, leading to months of competing legal claims and controversy.
A dozen parties came forward claiming they provided the key tip that ultimately led Dorner to hole up in a vacant mountain cabin where he apparently took his own life after a shootout with deputies.
The manhunt was under way Feb. 7 when McDaniel spotted Dorner at a gas station in Corona. He was about to call police when he spotted an LAPD squad car and alerted the officers.
“As the officers interviewed Mr. McDaniel, Dorner’s vehicle turned back,” the judges wrote. “Mr. McDaniel positively identified the truck,” and officers gave chase immediately.
That chase led to two shootouts between Dorner and police that left an officer dead.
Dorner then escaped 50 miles northeast to Big Bear, but that wouldn’t be known until the next breakthrough in the investigation, the document said.
McGowan, who works for the Snow Summit ski resort in Big Bear Lake, called authorities Feb. 7 after he spotted a burning truck on the side of a rarely used, unpaved fire route. He called authorities, who discovered the truck belonged to Dorner.
That information initiated an intense, focused search for Dorner. Officers went door-to-door in the following days, but it wasn’t until Feb. 12 that they received their next fruitful tip.
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Karen Reynolds called authorities to say Dorner had held her and her husband at gunpoint and tied them up before stealing their purple Nissan SUV to escape.
Karen Reynolds identified Dorner, gave the location of the cabin and the Nissan’s description. Less than half an hour later, he was spotted by Fish and Wildlife wardens and a chase ensued.
Dorner then crashed the Reynolds’ vehicle and carjacked camp ranger Rick Heltebrake, and it was his vehicle that was tracked to a cabin where Dorner later died.
Heltebrake filed a lawsuit last week seeking the $1 million reward but did not submit a claim under the reward’s process, according to the document.
A message seeking comment was left for Heltebrake’s lawyer.