LOS ANGELES -- Accusations are flying over the Los Angeles Police Department's bungled effort to replace a bullet-ridden pickup truck that belonged to two women who were mistaken for fugitive Christopher Dorner one horrifying morning.
Margie Carranza, 47, and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71, were delivering newspapers in Torrance, Calif., during the early hours of Feb. 7 when members of the LAPD mistook their blue Toyota Tacoma for Dorner's getaway car, a gray Nissan Titan pickup. Officers fired 102 bullets into Carranza's truck. While Carranza was injured by the shattered glass, Hernandez was shot in the back.
Two days after the almost-deadly case of mistaken identity, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck visited the victims' homes to apologize, and the department publicly promised to give them a new pickup truck by the next week.
Now, more than a month after the shooting, the police still haven't replaced Carranza's truck. A prominent car dealership owner and a lawyer representing the two women are pointing fingers about whose fault it is.
According to Bert Boeckmann, owner of Los Angeles-based Galpin Motors, Chief Beck called him personally to ask if he would handle the truck replacement. But after weeks of fruitless negotiation with the victims' lawyers, he said, he is convinced the other side wanted a botched deal just to get more press for an impending lawsuit against the city.
"We're huge on charitable giving," Boeckmann told The Huffington Post. "I've never had someone show such a lack of appreciation."
At what's been described as the largest Ford retailer in the U.S., Boeckmann's stock of new cars only includes Fords -- which he contends the victims rejected because they preferred a Toyota.
Boeckmann's company also owns a used-car dealership and thus was able to provide a secondhand Toyota pickup truck -- which, he said, the victims also rejected because it was a used vehicle.
Finally, both sides were about to agree on a new Ford crew cab. Even then, according to Boeckmann, they had another delay over whether Boeckmann's company would be able to snap and publicize a photo of the victims and their new car. Galpin Motors agreed to give up any such publicizing opportunities.
"I got everything squared away," recalled Boeckmann. "I was going to give them the truck, sales tax, license fee, and handle delivery." He even traded a truck with another dealer to get one with the desired color, Boeckmann claimed. All he asked was that the victims keep the truck at least one year. And because his business wanted to categorize the truck as a prize, the victims may also incur income tax, similar to what they would have paid if they'd won the vehicle in a contest.
"At that point, we told them to go f*** themselves," said attorney Glen Jonas, who represents Carranza and Hernandez.
"Getting 102 bullet holes in your truck is not a prize or reward," Jonas told HuffPost. "They were not dealing with us in good faith."
Jonas disputes Boeckmann's version of events. According to Jonas, his clients agreed to a Ford -- not a Toyota like the vehicle police bullets destroyed -- as well as the condition that they don't sell it for a year. But when it came time to seal the deal, Jonas said that Boeckmann and the Police Department stood firm that the truck would be counted as the victims' income and reported on a 1099 form (a tax form for reporting income other than wages, salaries, and tips).
But the LAPD promised to donate the truck, Jonas argues, and that means gift tax should be levied on the giver, not income tax on the recipient.
"Either LAPD or Galpin can pay [the gift tax]," Jonas asserted. "They broke their promise and found a creative way to get out of the obligation."
Making things harder for the victims is the fact that they have not been able to work since the shooting, as they are still recovering at home, reports the Los Angeles Times, which first wrote about the truck dispute Monday.
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith told the local NBC affiliate, "It's really sad for us because we want to help these women move on with their lives and help them move forward with that. We just can't get past the 1099 issue." He added, "The government has to take their bite out of it, I guess."
Jonas plans to file a government claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, on behalf of his clients against the LAPD next week over the shooting incident.
As for Dorner, he died Feb. 12 of a single gunshot to the head following a fiery gun battle with police in Big Bear Lake, Calif. Dorner is alleged to have killed four people in retaliation for being terminated from the LAPD: engaged couple Monica Quan and Keith Lawrence, Riverside police officer Michael Crain and San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremiah MacKay.