Posted Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, at 2:00 PM
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa turns away from the microphones after addressing the media outside police headquarters in downtown Los Angeles on February 12, 2013
Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
Above is video from this past weekend of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announcing a $1-million reward for information that led to the capture of Christopher Dorner, the ex-cop turned suspected cop killer who at that point had been on the run from authorities for about a week. Word of the seven-figure payout quickly became part of a story that was already dominating national news, helping to bring in more than 1,000 tips as to the fugitive's whereabouts in the process.
For all intents and purposes that manhunt ended on Tuesday, when the cabin Dorner was believed to be holed up in burned to the ground as it was surrounded by police. So who will get that money once the case is officially closed? Probably no one. Here's Villaraigosa's full-quote from that news conference, see if you can spot the giant loophole:
"Yesterday leaders from throughout the region, including leaders from businesses and unions, government, law enforcement and community groups, came together to pool resources and protect our core value of public safety. Collectively this group, led by my office, is posting a reward of $1 million for information that will lead to Mr. Dorner's capture."
Yep, thanks to some careful phrasing, it appears as though the city can hold on to its cash because Dorner wasn't technically "captured" before he died. The official story out of the mayor's office is that it's too early to say whether it will pay out the reward or not, but from the sounds of it a payout seems unlikely. As LAPD officer Alex Martinez bluntly told CBS News: "There was no capture and no conviction. It's kind of a no-brainer." (TMZ, which I should note was among the first to spot the potential loophole, has a rundown of a pair of similar $100,000 rewards that could likewise go unawarded.)
If that really is the case, then the $1-million alive-but-not-dead award was probably a shrewd financial move by the city, in the short-term anyway. (Anyone even remotely familiar with Dorner's manifesto could guess that the chances that the manhunt was going to end any other way than with his dead body were mighty slim; so, hey, free tips!) On the other hand, denying the tipsters their reward may not be the best PR move for the city at a moment when Dorner's claim of racial discrimination during his time at the LAPD has reopened old wounds in the city. It also wouldn't be the best way to encourage would-be tipsters to come forward in the future.
If the city does hand out the cash, the people with best claim to a large slice of it are probably Jim and Karen Reynolds, the couple that was briefly held hostage by Dorner after he broke into their condo on Tuesday, before stealing their purple Nissan and fleeing the scene. Minutes later, Karen called 911, the Los Angeles Times explains, setting "in motion the chain of events" that led to Dorner's shootout with a state Fish and Wildlife warden and then later the standoff at the cabin that eventually went up in flames. Asked if she expected to receive at least a share of the $1 million, Karen told reporters last night: "We heard nobody was getting that because he needed to be captured and convicted."