Donors Behind Million-Dollar Reward for Cop Killer Are Backing Out

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 25 2013 5:27 PM

Donors Behind Million-Dollar Reward for Cop Killer Are Backing Out Thanks to "Captured" Loophole

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa makes a statement to the media outside Police Administration Headquarters regarding former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner on February 12, 2013

Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Getty Images

We were afraid this might happen: It's looking increasingly like that hefty seven-figure reward ($1.2-million, to be exact) for Christopher Dorner will go un-awarded to the tipsters who helped lead California police to the former cop turned suspected cop killer last month.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a handful of the two dozen donors who pledged the cash for the rather impressive-sounding reward for information leading to the capture of the armed and "extremely dangerous" Dorner are already pulling out, and others are suggesting they'll soon do the same: 

"I've spoken with some groups, including a few that are substantial, that have already decided to withdraw their pledges,” said Ron Cottingham, president of the 64,000-member Peace Officers Research Assn. of California, which put a hold on its own dollars contributed toward the reward. "They said the reward doesn't fit their criteria."
More than 25 donors pledged reward money, including state and local police unions, civic organizations and individuals. But now, many are hesitating to follow through.
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That "criteria" again? Dorner had to be “captured and convicted," neither of which actually happened after he died during a standoff with police. Shortly after Dorner's death, Jim and Karen Reynolds, the couple who was briefly held hostage by the ex-cop and later called police after he fled their house, seemed resigned to the fact that they likely wouldn't see a penny of the reward. "We heard nobody was getting that because he needed to be captured and convicted," Karen told reporters then. But it seems that the couple has since changed their tune, and are now actively staking their claim for money, as is a third tipster, Rick Heltebrake, who called police after he was carjacked by the ex-cop.

Even if the trio carry on with their quest for the cash, they have a long road ahead, one that appears unlikely to lead to a reward of the size initially promised. The fact is, the dozens of donors must first come to a consensus before the award can be dispensed, something that would no doubt take awhile even if they were eager to part with their cash. The Los Angeles Mayor's Office assures the Times that even if some groups do back out, the reward won’t drop below $1 million. But we can’t help but remember LAPD officer Alex Martinez, who very bluntly told CBS News in February: "There was no capture and no conviction. It's kind of a no-brainer."

Jennifer Lai is an associate editor at Slate. Slate Plus members, email her here.