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Settlement Reached in Mistaken Identity Shooting

The Los Angeles Police Department has settled with two women whose truck was shot up during the hunt for Christopher Dorner.

Two women who were injured when Los Angeles police opened fire on their pickup truck in Torrance while they were delivering newspapers during the manhunt for former LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner have reached a $4.2 million settlement with the city, attorneys announced today.

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and attorney Glen Jonas, who represents Margie Carranza and her mother, Emma Hernandez, announced the payout, which will be split evenly between the two women in response to their personal injury claims.

The $4.2 million settlement, which is expected to cover legal fees, medical bills and emotional damage, still needs to be approved by the City Council.

"We hope that Margie and Emma will be able to move on with their lives," Trutanich said. "... The city will be spared literally millions of dollars in litigation fees ... expenses, and time and distraction. And hopefully this will put an end to the Dorner saga once and for all."

Jonas said the financial resolution staved off lawsuits from his clients that would have "cost the city millions upon millions."

A quick resolution was especially important for Hernandez, who is 71 years old, he said.

"You think she wants to wait five or 10 years for a maybe or a could be?" Jonas said. "So $4.2 million means a lot more to her today than potentially $7 million."

By Jonas' estimation, if the case had gone to trial, taxpayers would have ended up paying around $15 million if the city lost.

In March, the attorneys announced a $40,000 settlement of the women's property-damage claim, which stemmed from extensive damage done to their pickup truck, which officers mistook for the one Dorner had been using during his killing spree.

Officers riddled the Toyota Tacoma with more than 100 bullets during the Feb. 7 shooting. Hernandez, 71, was shot twice in the back, while Carranza, 47, was injured by broken glass.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck previously called the shooting "tragic." He initially promised to provide the women with a replacement truck, but that issue became complicated when the women realized they would be liable for about $10,000 in taxes on the new vehicle. That led to the $40,000 settlement.

Dorner was accused of killing four people, including a Riverside police officer, a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy and the daughter of a former LAPD captain, during a rampage fueled by his anger over being fired from the Los Angeles force several years ago.

The disgruntled ex-cop's remains were found inside a burned-out Big Bear cabin after a shootout with law enforcement on Feb. 12, culminating a nearly week-long manhunt for the fugitive.

Previously:

  • Police: Shootings Case of Mistaken Identity
  • L.A. to Compensate Victims in Torrance Shooting
  • Settlement Reached in Mistaken Identity Shooting
Mike Ruehle April 24, 2013 at 05:02 AM
Another biased Patch byline. "The Los Angeles Police Department has settled with two women whose truck was shot up during the hunt for Christopher Dorner." Wouldn't it have been more accurate to have published a byline that said, "The Los Angeles Police Department has settled with two women SHOT IN THE BACK while mistaken for Christopher Dorner. Who cares about the truck. The women were MISTAKENLY shot by cops. But I guess misleading the reading public is really the intent. By the way, the eight cops who MISTAKENLY shot these women almost 3 months ago are still off patrol duty and "under investigation," as if that really means anything more than a paid vacation. Attorney Jonas has described his clients as receiving “no commands, no instructions and no opportunity for surrender” as they went down the street. When police opened fire, he said, the truck’s cabin became a storm of bullets, shattered glass and plastic. When the shooting stopped, Redbeam Avenue looked like something out of a war zone. The bullet-riddled truck was stopped in the middle of the street, having lurched a few doors past the captain’s residence. Nearby homes, trees and cars were pockmarked by scores of bullet holes. Nobody living in the neighborhood was injured; most residents were in their beds and asleep when the shooting began. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-women-shot-by-lapd-during-dorner-manhunt-get-big-payout-20130423,0,3871391.story?track=rss
Nancy Wride (Editor) April 24, 2013 at 05:22 AM
When you say byline I think you mean headline. The headline says its a shooting. The secondary headline says their truck was shot up, and the first words in the story, written not by Patch but City News Service, 'Two women who were injured.'
Mike Ruehle April 24, 2013 at 06:52 AM
I'm certainly not a journalist, but according to Wikipedia, bylines "are traditionally placed between the headline and the text of the article." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byline The headline I'm looking at says, "Settlement Reached in Mistaken Identity Shooting." The next sentence between the headline and the article (byline) says, "The Los Angeles Police Department has settled with two women whose truck was shot up during the hunt for Christopher Dorner." So this is actually bias by City News Service and not Patch, even though Patch chose to publish this particular story rather than many of the other media stories out there clearly describing upfront (rather than the 3rd sentence) the settlement was due to police mistakenly shooting two women in the back and NOT police mistakenly shooting a truck.
John B. Greet April 24, 2013 at 02:03 PM
"...according to Wikipedia, bylines "are traditionally placed between the headline and the text of the article." Once again Ruehle engages in selective reading -and/or poor understanding- of one of his own linked sources, in this case to misuse as a basis to complain about Patch news products. Ruehle cites a Wiki definition of "byline" as a justification for his critique, yet he conveniently overlooks (or, most likely, simply ignored as unhelpful to his critique) the very first sentence of that definition: "The byline on a newspaper or magazine article gives the name, and often the position, of the writer of the article." Ruehle also said: "I'm certainly not a journalist..." In *that* comment, as with so few others, he is entirely correct. Ruehle seems unhappy that the officers may be on leave with pay (although the article he cites does not address whether they are being paid). Have these officers yet been found guilty of any wrong-doing? Personally, I think it likely that at least some of them eventually may be, but unless/until they are, does Ruehle believe they should be deprived of their income without due process? If so, why does Ruehle persist in seeking to deprive police officers of the same due process rights he and everyone else enjoys?
Rachellg April 24, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Did the police that made this mistake receive any punishment or was it just the taxpayers who were punished? I think what happened was incredibly wrong and I feel terrible for the women, however what was their permanent damage? Did they have life debilitating wounds where they can never deliver another newspaper? Where do the settlement amounts come from? Why are we taxpayers paying for the mistakes of police officers and why are we paying such a high amount? Does a 71 year old woman really need $2 million? $2 million is not punishing the police, it is punishing the taxpayer.
Rachellg April 24, 2013 at 05:07 PM
@John B Greet, yes, considering the circumstances, and the fact that the women received a settlement already, unpaid leave would seem appropriate. If found guilty of wrong doing their punishment should be much more severe, including jail time and fines. If a civilian did this they would be in jail awaiting trial.
Johnny April 24, 2013 at 05:54 PM
I agree with R Now. 4 M of our money? That's ridiculous. Fire the two cops, they clearly messed up, but a settlement for a shot up truck "broken glass" and a braze on the back. C'mon, that's ridiculous.
Kelly Sarkisian April 24, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Do you think you could find anyone to do police work if they held all of the liability? If that were the case you wouldn't have cops. Their successes are not to their personal benefit (cash seizures ect), so why should their failures. If they are found to have committed a criminal act they will be dealt with. I agree that the settlement is huge and is unnecessary. They got paid for what could have happened, not for what happened.
Rachellg April 24, 2013 at 08:51 PM
@Kelly, Doctors hold the liability and there are plenty of them, that's why there is malpractice insurance.
Rachellg April 24, 2013 at 09:02 PM
@Kelly, this is more than a "failure", the car was the wrong color, the wrong model, and the two women combined did not add up to the size of the suspect. This is gross negligence and is criminal.
Kelly Sarkisian April 24, 2013 at 09:20 PM
Doctors don't do the same job. It's not a good comparison.
Kelly Sarkisian April 24, 2013 at 09:26 PM
You are working off the Monday morning information. They will be judged by their actions and what they knew at the time of the incident. The reality of what was known afterward won't be used. You are also making assertions without knowing all of the facts from the incident. You only know what you have read and seen from the media. Just as the OJ trial, what appears to be true and what is proven in court are two different things. There is a process, let the process work and then we all can make an informed decision about the incident.
Rachellg April 24, 2013 at 09:30 PM
@Kelly, any occupation can have negligence and responsibility
Rachellg April 24, 2013 at 09:47 PM
@Kelly, the OJ trial is a bad comparison, the court of public opinion has a much different verdict than the jury in that case. The only thing the OJ trial proved is that a verdict can be bought.
John B. Greet April 25, 2013 at 12:18 AM
"...yes, considering the circumstances, and the fact that the women received a settlement already, unpaid leave would seem appropriate." The circumstances being that, as yet, there has been no finding of wrong-doing on the part of the officers? Local and state governments often settle such claims on purely financial grounds because litigating a lawsuit would likely cost more than the settlement amount. When this occurs there is rarely an admission of wrong-doing. Without such an admission, and without a finding of wrong-doing from a court, it would not be appropriate to suspend the officers' pay. In this, I think settling the claim was the correct response. Wrong-doing or not, the officers caused the damage and injuries and, so, the City should accept responsibility and pay a reasonable settlement. In a sense, police officers and deputies do carry insurance against civil suits, indirectly, through their respective agencies and governmental authorities. This, too, is appropriate since they represent their communities through those agencies and jurisdictions.
Mike Ruehle April 25, 2013 at 09:21 AM
Kelly, In my home town, both the police and the fire department are staffed with community volunteers, not cops making over $100,000 per year and looking forward to that same pension amount the rest of their lives.
Mike Ruehle April 25, 2013 at 09:23 AM
It was eight cops, not two.
John B. Greet April 25, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Ruehle, where would your hometown be? Is it as densely populated as Long Beach? Has it the same geographic size or the same crime rate? Do it's officers handle the same number of calls for service each shift? Have any of them been feloniously assaulted or murdered in the line of duty? Do they receive the same amount or quality of law enforcement training? Do those officers have the same average level of education? You are among LBPD's most prolific and habitual critics. LBPD has a strong reserve police officer program, staffed with community volunteers. Given your familiarity with the practices in your own hometown, since re-locating to Long Beach, have you considered serving your current community as a volunteer reserve police officer? If not, why not?

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