(LOS ANGELES) — A legal loophole could prevent good Samaritans, instrumental in ending the manhunt for a fugitive ex-cop accused of killing four people, from claiming more than $1 million in reward money because Christopher Dorner died and was not captured.
Last weekend, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pledged $1 million, sourced from private individuals, companies and unions, “for information that will lead to Mr. Dorner’s capture.”
The L.A. City Council followed up with its own promise of a $100,000 reward for information “leading to the identification, apprehension and conviction of Christopher Dorner.”
But Dorner was never captured, apprehended or convicted. Instead, he died following a standoff with police near Big Bear, Calif., when the cabin in which he was barricaded burned down with him inside.
The mayor’s office has not yet determined if the reward could still be paid out given that Dorner died.
“At this time, no decision has been made on the reward,” Villaraigosa’s spokesman Peter Sanders told ABC News in an email.
So far, none of the privately sourced “funds have been deposited into the city’s ‘Special Reward Trust Fund,'” according to Frank T. Mateljan, a spokesman for the city attorney.
That still leaves an additional $100,000 that the city council could pay with municipal money, but there are legal questions there, as well.
“The reward is definitely still on the table,” said Jessica Tarman, a spokeswoman for Councilman Daniel Zine.
The council ultimately decides how the reward will be distributed and who will get it. If its members are feeling generous, they could interpret the language of the original offer to make sure a worthy recipient gets paid.
“Arguably, city law is broad enough to allow payment to persons who assisted in the ‘identification, apprehension OR arrest and conviction’ of a suspect,” Metaljan said in an email.
If the city decides to honor the reward, there are still multiple steps before a claimant can be paid.
Anyone who thinks they are worthy must apply in writing. That claim would then be reviewed by the Los Angeles Police Department’s robbery and homicide division, and a recommendation would be made to the police commissioner. The commissioner would tell the council to consider the claim, and the council would vote on it.
So far, no one has come forward to ask for the reward. More than 1,000 leads were called in to a city hotline.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN
Heather Long, CNN
Tom LoBianco, Deirdre Walsh and Tal Kopan, CNN
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