I’ve already pissed a lot of people off with my comments on this subject. I’ve been yelled at by people who tell me that DORNER WAS A MURDERER AND HE DESERVED TO DIE!!!!! etc.
But this is America, people. Timothy McVeigh killed a hell of a lot more people than Christopher Dorner did – and yet, we managed to give him a fair trial and convict him of his crime.
How is it that we’re now perfectly fine with what was essentially the summary execution of a suspect who hadn’t even been charged with a crime? Well, I’m not OK with it. I’m not defending what Chris Dorner did. Not at all. What he did was heinous and terrible. But what I am saying is that no matter how heinous and terrible his crime, he was still entitled to justice under our laws. Instead, it felt to me like a summary execution, carried out by the LAPD with no witnesses, and all we have to go on is a convenient, tidy story that ties up the loose ends of Christopher Dorner’s life by casting him as a monster, a dangerous psychopath from whom we have been heroically saved by the LAPD.
Well, I’m not buying it. And I’ll tell you why.
I live in Los Angeles, and I have been very uncomfortable with – and, frankly, unnerved by – the behavior of the LAPD throughout this entire hysterical week. The attorney for the two Hispanic women who were shot while delivering newspapers said that the police opened fire first, without any warning, peppering their blue pickup with bullet holes and shooting one of the women, a 71 year old, twice in the back, and wounding her daughter in the hand. Those two women were lucky to have survived – the back of their truck shows more than a dozen bullet holes. In the second incident, the LAPD opened fire on a (white) guy driving a dark pickup truck on the 405 freeway – and rammed him into the center median – again without warning. This man was white, and had absolutely no resemblence to Chris Dorner. He was lucky as well, to have survived with only scratches and bruises – and a totaled pickup truck.
The news has been full of stories about the police raiding this place or that place; storming a motel in Tijuana, holding hundreds of people hostage at a local mall for hours while they searched every single car on the basis of a single anonymous tip, or what could have even been a prank call.
Yesterday, when the police and the SWAT team had Dorner barricaded in the cabin at Big Bear, they imposed a TRF – Temporary Flight Restriction – on the entire area of Big Bear Lake, thus effectively barring the news media from the scene and creating a news blackout… which meant that there were no witnesses to the events that followed.
We got the LAPD’s version, that Dorner refused to surrender, and that more than likely, when SWAT started to tear the cabin down using heavy equipment, he himself set the cabin on fire and then committed suicide by shooting himself. The fire department didn’t approach the cabin “because it was too dangerous” and so they stood back and let it burn to the ground – conveniently destroying any evidence – well, except for Dorner’s driver’s license, which somehow miraculously survived the fire.
I believe that the LAPD was out to summarily execute Dorner – screw a trial. They have done exactly that on many occasions; shooting several homeless people they deemed “threatening,” even though none of them had a gun and then justifying it as self-defense. This heavy-handedness isn’t new to L.A. There have been multiple occurrences of police brutality, including the infamous beating of Rodney King, which was covered up by the LAPD and only brought to light by a video of the event taken by a civilian witness. The officers involved were not convicted of any crime by the criminal court with an all-white jury in Simi Valley, but were found liable in civil court.
So, police brutality and over-reaction in Los Angeles is nothing new. But in my opinion, the events of yesterday and this last week have got me concerned about the militarization of our police force, which I believe has reached an entirely new level of violence – and finality.
The police and SWAT team had the Big Bear cabin completely surrounded. According to the owner, there were no supplies or electricity in the cabin – they could have easily waited Dorner out. Several days without food or water could have ended this with Dorner surrendering peacefully….or if he was bound to commit suicide, he could have made that choice – without having to choose between the bullet and being burned alive.
Instead, they stormed the cabin, and now? We only have their version of the story, because the only other witness, Christopher Dorner, is dead.
There is video of the LAPD screaming that they should “burn it down!!” (the cabin) as well as a screen cap from Anderson Cooper’s show with a statement from a marshal that when the cabin caught fire, Dorner tried to exit – and was shoved back inside.
I don’t know how accurate that is; I have been unable to find any other sources for that story.
However, I do think that in light of the LAPD’s behavior over the last week and their itchy trigger-fingers, there should be an investigation by an OUTSIDE neutral party into just what exactly happened yesterday in Big Bear.
Christopher Dorner was a murderer – but he deserved a fair trial, not a summary execution.
UPDATE: This is from Alternet. A must-read:
The news tonight reported that there were over 100 bullet holes in the back of the pickup truck being driven by those 2 women. Over 100.