Ranger Demands $1 Million Dorner Reward
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A National Forest ranger sued Los Angeles and two other cities, demanding the $1 million reward for the capture of rogue policeman Christopher Dorner, who was found dead after the manhunt for him made national news.
Richard Heltebrake sued the cities of Los Angeles, Riverside and Irvine, Riverside County, and four people who also claim the reward. He also sued the trustee of the Dorner Reward Trust Account, the Richards, Watson & Gershon law firm, all in Superior Court.
Dorner, a former LAPD police officer, was the target of one of the largest manhunts in LAPD history. He was suspected of murdering Keith Lawrence and Monica Quan, the daughter of a retired LAPD officer who represented Dorner at his termination hearing. Dorner allegedly shot the couple as they sat in their parked car in Irvine on Feb. 3.
In a manifesto published on Facebook, Dorner claimed the LAPD had fired him in retaliation for reporting excessive force by another officer.
Dorner was also charged with the murder of a police officer and the attempted murder of three others.
Heltebrake, a ranger in San Bernardino National Forest, claims he provided information that led to the capture of Dorner on Feb. 12 after Dorner stole his truck at gunpoint near State Route 38.
Heltebrake says he encountered Dorner after the rogue cop evaded a deputy and abandoned a purple Nissan he had been driving.
While driving his truck uphill, Heltebrake claims, he was "confronted by a black man dressed in camouflage clothes who jumped out of a snow bank and pointed a firearm at plaintiff."
"Plaintiff immediately recognized the man as Christopher Dorner. Dorner ordered plaintiff out of his truck and commandeered his truck to continue fleeing from law enforcement," the complaint states.
Heltebrake says he escaped on foot and called San Bernardino deputy sheriff Paul Franklin.
While on his cell phone, Heltebrake says he heard gunshots, attributed in the complaint to another shooting, between Dorner and Department of Fish and Wildlife officers.
Dorner later drove Heltebrake's truck into a gully and hid in a cabin near the Seven Oaks Resort, according to the complaint.
He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after exchanging gunfire with police while hiding out in the cabin, according to police and media reports.
"Because plaintiff's telephone call to deputy Franklin was a substantial factor in causing the apprehension and capture of Dorner, plaintiff accepted said defendants' offers and defendants, and each of them, are contractually obligated to pay plaintiff the respective rewards offered by them including but not limited to all monies in the defendants, City of Los Angeles, County of Riverside, Dorner Reward Trust Fund and plaintiff has a vested contract right to the rewards," Heltebrake says in the complaint.
He says he presented claims to each of the cities, and they all refused to pay him the reward.
He claims that four public entities have identified an additional $400,000 in reward money.
He wants a court order barring the cities from distributing the reward money, and damages for breach of contract and civil rights violations.
He is represented by Allen Thomas, of Long Beach.
Los Angeles, Irvine, and Riverside did not immediately respond to requests for comment.