Dorner Saga Puts Scrutiny on LAPD

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at LAPD headquarters. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman/
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at LAPD headquarters. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman/

LOS ANGELES-In the end Christopher Dorner proved to be more coward than hero. He ran and hid instead of standing up for an alleged injustice that had been done to him by the Los Angeles Police Department. He chose to kill innocent people rather than stick to law enforcement’s badge of honor to protect and serve. He became a menace to the men and women in blue uniforms that he used to fellowship with.

Dorner wanted to go down as a martyr. He died in a ball of flames. A city and the rest of Southern California found itself gripped with fear because of this madman’s perpetrated vendetta. Now it’s over. Or is it? It appears that Dorner’s near two week of reign of terror has come to an abrupt, fiery end somewhere in the snow in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Dorner’s reported short killing spree has finally come to a conclusion. Appearing and speaking briefly with the media shortly after the standoff had ended, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa looked relieved that the drawn-out episode had finally wrapped up.

“On behalf of the people of Los Angeles, our hearts and prayers are with the San Bernardino deputy who was shot and killed today,” Villaraigosa said at a press conference in front LAPD headquarters. “I want to thank all of the law enforcement professionals who worked day and night to try to bring Mr. Dorner to justice.

“I want to thank the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department for their work, for their courage under fire, half the people of Los Angeles. I want to thank all of the law enforcement professionals from Riverside, Irvine and from San Bernardino, the LAPD officers and particularly, the families. I spoke with a number of people who were on that target list, and I have to tell you that every single one of them-not a one-cared about themselves. They all cared about their kids and their families. I just thank God for them that this whole ordeal is over.”

The city of Los Angeles can go back to normalcy and breathing a little easier. Or can it?

Dorner’s episode of terror has re-ignited questions and controversy about the conduct of a police department that has tried to fast-track and distant itself from an ugly past of racism and a long trail of officer misconduct. Now what? Four families are left to grieve their loved ones, innocent victims of an ex-cop who sought to avenge his firing from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2008.

Dorner’s death count included the daughter of the union representative that handled his case that went before an LAPD panel before he was let go by the department; a public safety officer, a Riverside police officer and a San Bernardino County sheriff deputy.

Speaking of the LAPD, what becomes of the department going forward with all the information about Dorner’s accusations of alleged corruption, racist practices and brutal misconduct and abuse by former law enforcement colleagues, being outed to the media and the rest of the world to see? The LAPD, apparently, does not have a whole lot of sympathizers on its side regardless of how the outcome turned out as evident of the thousands of people who have flooded Dorner’s Facebook page and liked his detailed rant.

Because of the department’s long history of police abuse, particularly among African Americans and other minorities, the Dorner saga has re-opened old wounds that many people thought have been healed. According to Dorner’s lengthy manifesto that he posted on Facebook-the past of LAPD is still very much present in the department when it comes to workforce bigotry and the treatment of those incarcerated or being booked.

LAPD commander Andrew Smith speaking to the media about the Christopher Dorner standoff. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman/
LAPD commander Andrew Smith speaking to the media about the Christopher Dorner standoff. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman/

The same old habits of racism and misconduct within the department that resulted in uncovering the Rampart Scandal and the infamous Rodney King beating, is not over, according to Dorner’s post. Despite a federal consent decree that was lifted to suggest that the department had made enough strides to eradicate police officers abusive practices, Dorner accused the department of keeping those traditions alive.

He alleged that he found himself to be the victim of those very same standards. Dorner accused the department of firing him because he reported that a co-worker abusing a homeless man.  The sea of darkness surrounding his termination is just now coming to light with more and more information about his case being reported.

During the international manhunt, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the department would review Dormer’s case. Shame on the LAPD.

If the department really wanted to review Dorner’s case and do their due diligence in the matter, it may have spared four lives from being snuffed out by a man that was clearly not mentally stable. If Chief Beck and other LAPD officials wanted to get to the bottom of Dorner’s case, it may have saved the department from other possible investigations, media scrutiny, lost of trust from the communities it serves and a public relations nightmare that this story has now become.

But then again, when someone like Dorner goes on a killing rampage the way he did, it lends credence to the discussion that the former police officer may not have been fit to wear a badge in the first place. Unfortunately for the LAPD officials, there’s more questions to answer.

Now there are immediate questions about how Dorner, a former Navy officer, died. Various media outlets have played sound bites from a live audiotape from a police scanner where a law enforcement personnel used several expletives, including the word mother—- and screamed to have the cabin that Dorner was holed up burned down. Officials from LAPD said the department cannot comment on what actions the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department took.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has been mum on the matter.

Regardless of what crimes he may have committed, Dorner still had the right to surrender as a suspect, which appears, he was not afforded. Given the fact the media was pushed back from covering the live action that took place, that audio may prove to be the one caveat for outside law enforcement agencies to investigate what really took place in those last moments. It will also certainly add fuel to the fire in regards to rising speculation in days to come that Dorner was intentionally burned to death.

That is of little consolation to those families whose lives have been forever shaken with the unexpected passing of their loved ones. In selfish acts of vigilantism, Dorner took away their bright lights, their heroes. Dorner replaced their joy with sorrow. He short-circuited their dreams and aspirations with unspeakable pain. He took instead of giving. Now the men and women of the LAPD are left trying to get through one of the darkest chapters in the department’s history.





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