Cop Who Shot At Innocent Surfer During Dorner Manhunt Made A 'Reasonable Mistake,' Says DA
A Torrance police officer who opened fire on an innocent local surfer during the Christopher Dorner manhunt will not face charges and was 'justified' in his actions, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office says.
David Perdue was initially pulled over in the early morning hours of Feb. 7 as officers were on the lookout for Dorner, the renegade ex-cop who had already killed two people, including the daughter of now-retired LAPD Captain Randal Quan. Perdue was stopped twice on his way to the beach and seconds after he was let go the second time, he was rammed by a Torrance police cruiser that opened fire on his black Honda Ridgeline. Officer Brian McGee fired three shots at close range into Perdue's driver side window. Perdue did not suffer any gunshot wounds, but he did get a concussion from the crash and injured his spine.
The situation was a total mess, and the DA's report explains it like this: Some other Torrance Police Officers had mistakenly opened fire on two women delivering newspapers just moments before and blocks away, thinking that they were Dorner. McGee and his partner, Erin Sooper, heard the shots from the other incident and, according to the report, the gunfire "reminded McGee of his military experience in Iraq." The two officers who just stopped Perdue, Brent Clissold and Daniel Cid, heard the gunfire as well and reported a "shots fired" call in their radio. When McGee and Sooper arrived at the scene, they noticed the patrol car belonging to Clissold and Cid "had its doors open, its overhead rotator lights were on and McGee did not see either officer near the vehicle," in addition to no radio traffic from the car. McGee claims in the report that he thought the two officers were dead, but in reality they were getting weapons from the trunk and were out of view.
It was at this time that Perdue's truck came into view, driving toward McGee and Sooper. Thinking that it was Dorner, McGee rammed his patrol car into the driver's side door of Perdue's truck, wrecking it. McGee then heard additional shots and thought they were coming from Perdue's truck. Despite the fact that the deployed airbag concealed Perdue's identity, McGee fired three shots into the driver side window of the truck. It was only when Perdue yelled, "What the fuck, man? You're shooting at me!" and McGee saw that the guy he shot at was a 160-pound white man did he realize his mistake.
The D.A. justified the officers' actions because they were both "anxious" and in "panic mode" due to the manhunt.
"There is no doubt, based upon the evidence presented, that McGee was acting under an actual belief in the need to defend himself," the statement from the DA says.
The report concludes:
McGee's actions are analyzed based on the totality of circumstances, which include McGee's knowledge of Dorner's previous threats and actions in the days and hours preceding these events, which gave rise to an atmosphere of fear and extreme anticipation. Those circumstances created a situation in which a reasonable mistake of fact, namely that Dorner was driving the truck, nearly resulted in a horrific tragedy. Nonetheless, given the circumstances, as detailed above, we conclude that Officer McGee was justified in using force to stop the vehicle and in discharging his firearm. Therefore, prosecution in this matter is declined and this office will take no further action.
Perdue's attorney, Robert Sheahan, claimed that investigators never called Perdue or his wife about the events of that morning, adding that the official ruling is steeped in "factual fantasy.""Panic and anxiety have no place in a police force. This report piles prosecutorial gibberish on top of police lawlessness," Sheahan told NBC 4.
Perdue was awarded $20,000 by the Torrance Police Department for damages, but he is currently suing the city of Torrance in federal court. Sheahan says his client hasn't been able to go back to his job as a baggage handler because of his injuries.
A blue Toyota Tacoma driven by the two women who were delivering newspapers, Emma Hernandez and Margie Carranza, was riddled with bullets just before Perdue was mistaken for Dorner. The 71-year-old Hernandez was shot twice in the back and still has emotional scars from the incident. According to the report, the two officers involved in that shooting will be examined separately.