Lawsuit over Christopher Dorner reward money dismissed


Richard Heltebrake contended he was entitled to the reward because his 911 call helped alert authorities to Dorner's whereabouts. He escaped after being carjacked by Dorner, a former officer who was wanted in the killing of Cal State Fullerton assistant basketball coach Monica Quan and her fiancé Keith Lawrence, as well as the shooting deaths of Riverside Officer Michael Crain and San Bernardino Detective Jeremiah MacKay.

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 therefore they should be stricken.

The judge also said she was not convinced that the city was contractually obligated to pay Heltebrake. She said the Riverside City Charter requires a written agreement approved by the mayor and City Council to substantiate such a claim.

A panel of judges had previously concluded that his phone call to police did not provide the information that led to Dorner. They said during the call, Heltebrake reported hearing gunfire, meaning law enforcement had already located Dorner and were engaged in a gun battle with him.

But Heltebrake claimed their timeline is false and said the audio from scanner traffic that day proves it.

Heltebrake's claims against the county of Riverside have already been dismissed, 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 Irvine.

White awarded $15,050 in attorneys' fees to the city of Los Angeles.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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