LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A lawsuit filed by a camp ranger carjacked by Christopher Dorner against the cities of Los Angeles and Riverside was dismissed by a judge Monday.
Plaintiff Richard Heltebrake said in a lawsuit filed April 29 that he deserves the money because his 911 call helped alert authorities to Dorner’s whereabouts.
Dorner, an ex-Los Angeles police officer and former Navy reserve, terrorized Southern California following the murder of an Irvine couple and posting an online manifesto pledging warfare against LAPD officers and their families for what he believed was his unjust firing. After a week-long manhunt that also killed Riverside police Officer Michael Crain, 33-year-old Dorner was killed Feb. 12 from a self-inflicted gunshot in a standoff as a cabin burned down around him in the San Bernardino Mountain community of Angelus Oaks.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White found that Heltebrake’s claims against the city of Los Angeles infringed on “protected activities” – including a televised news conference by then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa regarding the manhunt for Dorner and the reward announcement – and that they therefore should be stricken.
White said she was not convinced that the city was contractually obligated to pay Heltebrake. Lawyers for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office stated in their court papers that state Department of Fish and Wildlife officers notified San Bernardino County authorities of Dorner’s whereabouts, not Heltebrake.
White awarded $15,050 in attorneys’ fees to the city of Los Angeles.
The judge previously dismissed Heltebrake’s claims against the county of Riverside, leaving the city of Irvine as the only remaining governmental defendant.
A hearing is scheduled March 10 on a motion to dismiss all of Heltebrake’s claims against the city of Irvine.
Three retired judges appointed to make to make a final determination of who deserved the reward money announced in May that four people other than Heltebrake would receive a share for helping law enforcement officers track down Dorner.
The judges found that 80 percent of the money should go to a couple who were bound and gagged by Dorner in their Big Bear cabin. The panel recommended that a ski resort employee be awarded 15 percent and a tow truck driver 5 percent.
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