On Feb. 12, the massive manhunt for the rogue ex-Los Angeles Police Officer Christopher Dorner came to a fiery end in the San Bernardino County, Calif. The shootout was largely televised, and I imagine that it was largely watched. Everyone loves a good shootout. While Dorner’s actions are certainly reprehensible and unjustified, the actions taken by the LAPD up to and during the final showdown were equally astonishing and equally condemnable.
On Feb. 7, the LAPD opened fire on a vehicle that resembled Dorner’s, only to find two women delivering newspapers operating the automobile. Now, wouldn’t it make sense to verify who was in the vehicle before covering it in bullets? I imagine that there was no confusion, as a large African-American male probably bears minimal resemblance to two women, one of whom was 71 years old.
When the driving force of protection in our society does its best to kill you without first verifying if you pose any threat, there is an issue. It begs the question of whether there is any merit to Dorner’s manifesto, and its related accusations against the LAPD. Where is the protocol? Where is the due process? These are apparently archaic ideals for the LAPD, who favor shooting up unidentified civilians.
There was also the showdown in the cabin. Granted, the situation was extreme and Dorner was exceptionally dangerous. Standoffs happen everyday, however, and often end quietly. If you Google “armed standoff,” the results yield an overwhelming amount of peaceful arrests, with the suspect in question often surrendering.
Why did Dorner’s case go the opposite way? First off, the LAPD SWAT teams neglected to follow protocol for dealing with a barricaded subject. The LAPD index for tactics to be used in respect to a barricaded subject states that, “Once the suspect is isolated, time is to the benefit of the officers, and the full resources of the agency are available to assist officers in removing the suspect from the location.” They had Dorner isolated, a secure perimeter established and he was in the middle of the woods. Escape was improbable, despite his advanced training.
Yet the LAPD used excessive amounts of tear gas, which is widely known to be immensely flammable, in a situation where bullets are flying every which way. A crisis negotiator was never used. They had time on their side, which the index clearly states is of great benefit to the officers, and instead they made quick, rash decisions and were overzealous in their assault. The reasoning behind these calls to action was apparently because the LAPD feared the cover of darkness. They were scared of the dark. I had no idea that police officers are incapable of operating effectively in moonlight.
Yes, Dorner was a menace and he committed many egregious crimes against the innocent. But am I the only one that wants justice and not just vengeance? Dorner was a cop-killer. The LAPD aren’t necessarily known for being cuddly with their suspects. I would not put it past them to throw protocol, due process and any semblance of a right to be tried by a jury of peers out the damn window.
In a world where a police force can act irrationally and violently simultaneously without serious consequence, well, maybe I should buy a gun. If someone has to protect and serve me, it might as well be me.