The city of Torrance has written a check for $20,000 to replace a Redondo Beach surfer’s pickup truck damaged when police rammed it and shot through its windshield, mistaking the vehicle for one driven by cop killer Christopher Dorner.
But attorney Robert Sheahen said Monday the amount is far from the millions of dollars his client David Perdue seeks in the aftermath of a shooting that rendered Perdue unable to work as a Los Angeles International Airport baggage handler or surf.
“Torrance is not negotiating,” Sheahen said. “Torrance has been a ‘my way or the highway posture.’”
Perdue, who received the check last week, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in June. He is seeking a similar settlement to the $4.2 million that the city of Los Angeles paid to two newspaper carriers who Los Angeles police officers shot at in the moments before a Torrance officer shot at him.
Sheahen said Torrance officials offered to pay $450,000 to Perdue and $50,000 to his wife, Lizzette, in July. It is not close to enough, he said.
“Compare this to the LAPD settlement,” Sheahen said. “The first thing they did was buy the women a new truck. These people, it’s like pulling teeth to get $20,000 out of them. Torrance just mystifies me as to why they want to pay $250,000 to outside counsel, and they just jerk these people around.”
The LAPD and Torrance police shootings occurred Feb. 7 as police officers guarded the Redbeam Avenue home of a high-ranking Los Angeles police official Dorner identified as a target in an online manifesto outlining his plan for revenge against family members of officers involved in firing him from the force in 2009. Dorner killed a Los Angeles police officer’s daughter and her boyfriend in Irvine days earlier, and that morning shot at three police officers in Riverside County, killing one.
About 5:30 a.m., eight Los Angeles officers fired possibly more than 100 bullets at two female newspaper carriers when they pulled onto the Torrance street near the police official’s home. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck called it a case of mistaken identity. Bullets struck a 71-year-old woman inside the truck and narrowly missed her daughter.
Just before that gunfire, Perdue pulled onto Flagler Lane to pick up a friend to go surfing. He found Torrance officers blocking his path and asking him to turn around.
According to police, Perdue made a U-turn just as the Los Angeles police gunfire was heard nearby. An officer who turned onto Flagler Lane heard the gunshots and calls of “Shots fired” on the radio, believed Perdue’s truck was Dorner’s truck, rammed it and shot.
The lawsuit said three bullets narrowly missed Perdue, passing through his driver’s side window, piercing his airbags and exiting through the front windshield. The female officer pointed her gun at Perdue, ordered him out and forced him to lay on the ground.
“David has suffered head trauma and spinal injuries and has been unable to work since the time of the assault,” Sheahen said in a statement. “Once a near-professional athlete, David now cannot surf nor can he even lift his sons to play with them. His gait and his speech are impaired.”
Sheahen said the check was written to Perdue’s wife, the registered owner of the Honda Ridgeline. The money will be used for daily living expenses.
“When the Torrance police assaulted David and put him out of work, the family lost its breadwinner. The family has suffered considerable economic hardship due to the incident,” Sheahen wrote. “This check goes for rent and groceries and clothes for the kids. A new truck will have to wait until the big check comes in later in the case.”
Shortly after the shooting, Torrance Police Chief John Neu contacted Perdue, apologized, and offered to buy him a new truck and cover his expenses.
Torrance police Sgt. Robert Watt confirmed the settlement with Perdue over the truck.
“This amount was based on a settlement reached between the City of Torrance and the registered owner of the vehicle, Mrs. Perdue, and was negotiated several weeks ago by the city’s Risk Management Department and Mr. and Mrs. Perdue’s attorney of record, Mr. Todd Thibido,” Watt said. “Mr. and Mrs. Perdue’s lawsuit against the City of Torrance continues.”
The case is next set for court Oct. 29.
“You have no idea how difficult it has been for us,” Lizzette Perdue said in a statement. “My husband cannot work and he is in constant pain. I do not know why Torrance is treating us like this. Dave didn’t do anything to them.”
Dorner was tracked to a cabin at Big Bear, where he engaged in a shootout with San Bernardino County deputies on Feb. 12. Dorner killed a deputy and wounded another during the gunbattle. Dorner died of a gunshot wound to the head.