15 February 2013


My prediction came true.  Four days ago, in recounting the manhunt for Christopher Dorner, the former Los Angeles police officer accused of the revenge shootings of other LAPD officers,  I expressed my concern that Dorner would be terminated with extreme prejudice (executed) before he could be arrested, incarcerated, and brought to trial.  Yesterday, the manhunt came to an end with Dorner trapped in an empty vacation home.  As reported by CBS News (see both transcript and videos), the fugitive was surrounded by dozens of officers ~ including tactical assault teams ~ from a number of law enforcement agencies.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands of rounds of ammunition were fired during the ensuing gun battle.  It is unclear whether any serious attempt at surrender negotiation was ever attempted.  In a situation like that, Dorner probably knew that he had little chance of survival, much less a chance for a fair trial.  A trained sniper, he defended himself.  Ultimately rounds of tear gas were fired into the house, followed by a more potent, highly flammable form of tear gas.  Moments later, the house was consumed by flames.  Dorner's path of violence came to a fiery end.  Was that law enforcement's plan all along?  The image above shows the fire-leveled house, with nothing left standing but the fireplace chimney.

Understand ~ I am not saying that Dorner was innocent.  I'm saying that he was presumed guilty by police.  Dorner was fired from LAPD in 2008, and apparently had harbored a grudge over his dismissal ever since.  Given the passage of nearly five years, if he was guilty of the police shootings, they were not impulsive acts.  They were carefully planned and carried out.  Charges of murder and attempted murder had been filed against Dorner by the LA district attorney.

Here's what I am saying ~ there's too much we don't know.  The details of his firing have not been revealed, other than that he accused a fellow officer of police brutality against an arrested man, and the hearing board decided that the accusation was unfounded.  Then came his dismissal from the force.  Was the decision a case of racial prejudice (Dorner was black)?

Further ~ there has been no mention of previous false statements or erratic behavior in Dorner's record.  All applicants to major law enforcement agencies undergo rigorous background checks and psychological evaluations.  If Dorner was a lethal sociopath, wouldn't some indication have turned up?  Something is not ringing true.

We have no idea what events or forces may have set Dorner off.  We likely never will, given LAPD's long reputation for abuse and coverup.  Perhaps something in him truly did finally flip.  Perhaps he was provoked.  It's too easy to dismiss the chain of events as the work of a deranged mind carrying out grudge killings.  We've seen so many portrayals of serial killers on TV and in the movies, it is convenient to make that leap of judgment.

From the little we've been told, it seems that Dorner killed with premeditation.  We do not know why.  And that is why he should have been arrested and brought to trial ~ to bring to light any mitigating circumstances, and to reveal any other culpable parties.  That is how our system of justice is supposed to work.  It failed miserably.

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