City of Torrance and man shot at by police during manhunt for ex-LAPD cop Dorner set for mediation

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

Torrance Police Department headquarters in Torrance, CA.

The man who was shot at by Torrance police during the search for Christopher Dorner will enter into mediation talks with attorneys representing the city over a possible settlement.

A mediation hearing has been scheduled for June 13 between the city and David Perdue, 38, of Redondo Beach.

Two Torrance police officers stopped the truck Perdue was driving about 5:15 a.m. on Feb. 7.

The night before, Irvine police announced that the double homicide suspect they were looking for was ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. A manhunt was underway and hundreds of cops were deployed across Southern California to protect certain LAPD personnel named by Dorner as possible targets in his manifesto. One of them lives in Torrance.

RELATED: LAPD manhunt: The search for alleged cop killer Christopher Dorner

After some questioning, the Torrance police officers told Perdue to make a U-turn out of the neighborhood and go back. Perdue complied. But moments later, a Torrance police car rammed into his truck and three bullets were fired at him, according to reports.

Perdue was not hit by the bullets. His attorney Robert Sheahen said his client is only alive thanks to bad marksmanship.

“This isn’t like a fender bender,” said Sheahen. “This is like an intentional attempt, basically, to kill, by the Torrance Police Department.”

Sheahen said his client suffered a concussion and from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). He is in physical therapy for his back problems and has on-going head, shoulder and hip pain from the injuries. He has not been able to return to his baggage-handling job at LAX.

“They couldn’t have even taken the three seconds that it would have taken to evaluate the situation and to realize that there is no way on Earth that this man is Christopher Dorner,” said Sheahen.

Perdue is a thin, white man. Christopher Dorner was a muscular black man.

But Torrance police spokesperson Sgt. Robert Watt said there was more going on at the time. Approximately three blocks over and nearly at the same time, Los Angeles police fired almost a hundred rounds at another truck. Dorner was believed to be driving a truck.

“I think when you add the fact that there were shots being fired and our officers believed that they were being shot at,” said Watt. “It’s a game changer right there.”

The LAPD shooting was a mistake. The delivery workers in the truck were women. The city of Los Angeles recently settled that case for $4.2 million and another $40,000 was offered to replace their vehicle.

Sgt. Watt said Torrance police chief John Neu called Perdue shortly after the shooting to apologize.

“Attempts were made to deal with his truck that had been struck by gunfire,” Watt said. “Mr. Perdue has a right to an attorney and that’s what he requested.”

Watt said Perdue declined the offer and hired a lawyer. But his lawyer Sheahen says the police department has “stonewalled” them.

“They have seized David’s truck,” he said. “They will not let us look at the police car that rammed his truck.”

Some of these issues may be worked out by a retired judge who will mediate the June hearing and who is expected to recommend an out-of-court settlement.

Sheahen hasn’t given Torrance city attorneys a number, but says the $4.2 million settlement Los Angeles arranged with the two delivery workers sets a low starting point for his client’s case.

In the meantime, the Torrance Police Department continues to investigate the shooting. When that’s done, the case will be sent to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office for review. It's up to the DA to decide whether to file any criminal charges.

The Torrance police command staff will then review the case as a panel and decide whether department policies were followed.

“Then we figure out what we have to do,” Watt said. “Do we implement more training to that particular person or persons? Or does it mean more training [for] all the officers together?”

One Torrance police officer involved is back to work; the other isn’t ready yet, Watt said.

The LAPD is currently reviewing its own shooting of the newspaper delivery workers. Those eight LAPD officers are also back to work, but on administrative duty.

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