11 February 2013
By now, most people are aware of the February 2013 shootings of uniformed police officers in the Los Angeles area, and of the massive manhunt for the alleged shooter, former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner (image above) ~ a search involving thousands of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies, spanning four states (California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico). The hunt has already led to police accidentally shooting two women and one man.
The scale and ferocity of the search dwarfs any previous manhunt in Los Angeles history. Even given the very real threat which Dorner apparently poses to others, it remains true that so-called 'cop killers' arouse a desire for retribution that is both unprofessional and far out of proportion to the crime. It raises the question ~ are the lives of police officers worth more than the lives of civilians?
Dorner was terminated from LAPD in September 2008 for filing a report against a fellow police officer, alleging excessive use of force during an arrest. Dorner cited his termination, alleged corruption within the department, and alleged racism within the department as his reasons for committing the February shootings. His remarks were included in a manifesto posted on his Facebook page.
Journalist Arturo Garcia summarizes the allegations made by and against Dorner, and states that while terrorist acts cannot be condoned, they nevertheless must be understood. The $1 million reward for information leading to Dorner's capture, along with the scale of the manhunt, suggest that the department, in addition to their concern for public safety, may also be concerned that Dorner's accusations will be examined closely and found to have merit.
I hope that Dorner is captured and brought to trial. Given the number of adrenaline-pumped, trigger-happy police officers on the hunt (a few of whom may have something to hide), it remains possible that Dorner is a marked man, that he will be shot and killed while "resisting arrest". He is undeniable dangerous. But he is also one important side in a story whose dimensions we've only begun to understand.
While I condemn Dorner's violent path of revenge, and while I have deep respect for the stress and responsibility involved in being a police officer, I also know that the LAPD has a long history of corruption and police brutality (remember Rodney King?). To clear their reputation, it is imperative that they conduct the arrest, detention, and questioning of Christopher Dorner in a manner beyond reproach ~ as though the public were watching every move. Because we are.