A National City police officer, recognized Tuesday for his key role in the Christopher Dorner manhunt, looks back on the moment he helped identify the suspect in a revenge-fueled crime spree against the Los Angeles Police Department.
Officer Paul Hernandez was following up on the discovery of some Los Angeles police department property found in a dumpster on Feb. 6.
Hernandez found a bullet proof helmet, ammunition, a notepad from LAPD and a uniform with Dorner’s name on it.
Dorner’s name – which, at that point, was still unknown to law enforcement and the public, as the manhunt had not yet begun -- was also found on an officer's notebook, as well as Dorner’s serial number.
The name and serial number of Sgt. Teresa Evans was also on the notebook. Hernandez immediately called Sgt. Evans by phone to ask a few questions.
After their conversation, Evans pointed Irvine police in Dorner’s direction as a possible suspect in a double homicide.
Several LAPD families went into hiding and were under 24/7 police protection while Dorner remained at large.
Several days later the fugitive ex-LAPD officer died in a shootout with police at a cabin in Big Bear.
As he was being honored Tuesday by National City leaders for his persistence and follow through, Hernandez was quick to point out that he believes anyone in the NCPD would’ve done the same thing.
“It was just me, my area, my time, my day and I was there,” he told NBC 7. “Just taking that extra step that needs to be taken in any investigation.”
But even Officer Hernandez admits the step he took was vital in dismantling Dorner’s crime spree.
"It does show that little thing, possibly threw his whole plan of events was off because he got identified,” Hernandez said. “When I look at it now, I am very grateful that I was in that position to make that call and link up that case."
Hernandez was honored as the Employee of the Quarter by National City and also received an award from Crime Stoppers for Outstanding Work in the Fight Against Crime.