LOS ANGELES (AP) — A surfer who was shot at by police during the manhunt for rogue ex-cop Christopher Dorner has filed a lawsuit against the City of Torrance and its police department.
David Perdue, 38, was driving his black Honda pickup early Feb. 7 on his way to pick up a friend to go surfing when he was stopped by officers looking for Dorner, an ex-Los Angeles police officer who had promised to bring “warfare” to his former department’s officers and their families.
Authorities say Dorner killed four people, including two law enforcement officers, during a weeklong rampage that involved a massive manhunt and ended with his apparent suicide in a mountain cabin following a gunbattle with police.
At the time officers stopped Perdue, Dorner had already killed two people, and officers throughout the area were protecting people he named as targets. Authorities believed he was driving a pickup, although it was a different make and color than Perdue’s truck.
The officers who stopped Perdue asked him a few questions, then told him to turn around and go back the way he came, according to the lawsuit.
Soon after, a second police car driving toward him accelerated to 25-30 mph “without any warning,” and rammed his pickup, spinning him around and tearing off the rear axle. Air bags deployed and Perdue’s upper body was jolted over the center console, he says in his complaint.
Perdue says the two officers fired at least three bullets into the open driver’s side window, sending them into the side air bags, past his head and through the front windshield.
Perdue was ordered out of the pickup with a gun to his head and forced to lie face-down on the pavement. He was detained for an hour.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court, says Perdue has suffered “physical injuries, severe emotional distress and mental suffering.”
The complaint alleges that the city and its police department refused to accept responsibility for what happened and instead published false and conflicting accounts. It also states that the officers involved were allowed to return to duty without any discipline. Torrance police Sgt. Robert Watt said he can’t comment on discipline issues, but the two officers involved returned to duty after a psychological evaluation, which is routine after such an incident.
The suit notes that Perdue, who is white, was much shorter and smaller and looked nothing like Dorner, who was black.
A statement from the city said they could not comment on specifics of the lawsuit. Watt said the department is in mediation and had a four hour session Thursday with Perdue’s attorneys; no future date is yet set. The Los Angeles district attorney’s office is investigating.
The Perdue shooting was not the only case of mistaken identity that morning. Two women delivering newspapers in Torrance were also shot at by Los Angeles police officers; the city reached a $4.2 million settlement with the women in April in addition to the $40,000 settlement for the loss of their pickup truck.
The eight officers involved in that incident are still working “non-field” assignments and Police Chief Charlie Beck will decide if and when they return to the field, said LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith.
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