Crime & Justice

No charges for 8 officers who mistakenly shot at women in pickup truck during Dorner manhunt

In this Feb. 7, 2013 file photo, law enforcement officers look over the scene of the officer-involved shooting in Torrance, Calif.
In this Feb. 7, 2013 file photo, law enforcement officers look over the scene of the officer-involved shooting in Torrance, Calif.
Chris Carlson/AP

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Prosecutors have declined to file charges against the eight Los Angeles police officers who mistakenly shot up a pickup truck carrying two civilians during the manhunt for fugitive ex-cop Christopher Dorner, with one of the women inside being hit by two bullets.

Dorner's rampage, targeting officers and their families, set the law enforcement community on edge for more than a week. Thinking they had spotted his pickup truck, the LAPD officers opened fire shortly before 6 a.m. on Feb. 7, 2013, shooting the truck Margie Hernandez and Emma Carranza were inside and injuring both of them.

In a memo released Wednesday, the L.A. County District Attorney's Office said there was "insufficient admissible evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt" that the officers weren't acting "in self-defense and in defense of others."

Attorney Glenn Jonas, who represented the two women in 2013 when they filed a civil lawsuit against the city, told KPCC that the letter released by the DA was insufficient.

“What I do want to know is who took that first shot and why,” said Jonas.

He said that he takes issue with the fact that statements from the officers were redacted.

“That's some post-Rampart risk management nonsense, where because you're a police officer and you're facing possible discipline or loss of your job… they're now going to be protected and that statement won't be usable in the court of law for any purpose,” said Jonas. “That's ridiculous.”

Jonas said that he understands the stressful and unusual situation that the officers faced, but asserted that the letter “sheds no light on the questions that we all have.”

"If you're going to be a puss, next time appoint a prosecutor who's going to ... be a little more transparent about it,” said Jonas.

According to the memo, the officers who fired their weapons were LAPD Sgt. John Valdez and officers Jess Faber, Marlon Franco, Sergio Gramajo, John Hart, Geoff Lear, Deshon Parker and Jonathan Roman.

The DA's office said its analysis included a review of photographs, recorded interviews of witnesses, radio transmissions and statements from each of the officers.

The statements of the officers were partially redacted in the public version of the letter.

The shooting occurred as the massive manhunt for Dorner was getting underway.

On Feb. 3, Dorner had shot and killed two people in Irvine in an execution-style attack. One was Monica Quan, the daughter of former LAPD Capt. Randy Quan, the officer who had represented Dorner in his termination proceedings. The other victim was Monica Quan's fiance, Keith Lawrence.

Dorner had been fired from the LAPD in 2008. It was decided that he had falsely accused a fellow officer of using excessive force. His final appeal was rejected in 2011.

Dorner left a 17-page "manifesto" on his Facebook page, warning that there would be "deadly consequences" and that his attacks would stop only when the department announced he was innocent of the allegations that led to him being fired. At one point in his writings, Dorner referred to himself as a "cop killer." He also named specific personnel within the department and indicated that their families would be targeted.

Dorner also warned that he had access to a shoulder-fired rocket launcher and high-caliber rifles.

A department-wide message indicated Dorner was driving a blue Nissan Titan pickup and warned that he had threatened to kill any police officers who attempted to arrest him.

A detail of officers had been assigned to protect Capt. Justin Eisenberg, who was named in Dorner's manifesto. They had been briefed on the Dorner situation and set up around Eisenberg's home.

Sometime between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 7, Dorner shot an officer in Corona. About 10 minutes later he ambushed two Riverside police officers stopped at a traffic light, killing one of them.

The officers at Eisenberg's home were told of the attacks in Riverside and Corona. Less than an hour later, they heard reports of a light gray pickup that could be heading toward their position.

At 5:10 a.m., Carranza and her mother, Hernandez, delivering newspapers from a blue, four-door 2007 Toyota Tacoma pickup with tinted windows, turned onto the street where Eisenberg lived. Officers mistook the vehicle for Dorner's and opened fire.

The bullets ripped through the truck, blowing out the tires and sending glass through the cabin.

Hernandez received two gunshot wounds — one to her lower back and another to her right shoulder. Carranza came away with only a cut finger.

The two ultimately filed a claim against the city and LAPD, which was settled for $4.2 million.

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This story has been updated.