More on Christopher Dorner

A number of our members were upset with me for this post, in which I expressed satisfaction that Christopher Dorner, killer of four, attempted killer of many others, had himself been killed.  I respond here in this new post rather than be confined to the 200-word limit of a comment on the original one.

First, I did not advocate that the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department resort to extra-legal means so as to ensure that Dorner be killed rather than captured. In my 30 years as a police officer I have been shot at, but I have never shot anyone. In those 30 years there have been no less than five occasions in which I would have been fully justified in doing so; that I did not should suggest that I am not as heartless as some here assume me to be. 

In the post I merely expressed a thought that was — and remains — commonly held among police officers, most especially those involved in the week-long search for Dorner, which is that in the realm of all possible outcomes awaiting him, the one that came to pass was the preferable one.  Interestingly, none of the commenters who took me to task addressed the main point of my post, which is that if Dorner had been captured and brought to trial, he surely would have been placed on the same sort of pedestal on which we today find another cop-killer, Mumia Abu Jamal, who murdered Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner 31 years ago yet lives on while enjoying a perverse kind of fame. That the families of Dorner’s victims will not grow old while seeing so despicable a man lionized in the same fashion is not something to regret.

Second, to those who say the sheriff’s deputies acted precipitously in hastening the final outcome in the Dorner case, how many more people would Dorner have to shoot before you were made comfortable in the decision to take aggressive action against him?  Surround the cabin and wait him out, some suggested. This option presented a problem: Any officer who was in a position to keep the cabin under observation could have been seen by – and shot by – Dorner, whose inclination and ability to do just that had already been made manifest.  Why give him the opportunity to kill again? 

In his Facebook manifesto, Dorner told the world he would wage a guerrilla war on police officers and their families. Then he went out and did just that. What happened on that mountainside yesterday was nothing less than combat, and the incident commander for the deputies at the scene had a duty — indeed a moral obligation — to bring it to an end quickly.

Third, the Los Angeles Police Department had no role in the final shootout with Dorner. An LAPD SWAT team was flown by helicopter to the San Bernardino airport, but their assistance was declined by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.

Lastly, Christopher Dorner’s death was the direct result of decisions he and only he made.  Surely he realized that if he surrendered he would have been offered a grand stage on which to air his grievances. Yet he refused to surrender even when given ample opportunity to do so.  He chose his fate. Let the world now forget him.

  1. Wylee Coyote
    Skyler:  But it was not a military battle on some distant battlefield where the police had to charge into the blazing guns of a pillbox. This was a ski resort on Big Bear. I’ve been there many times. It’s not a battlefield.

    Nothing is a battlefield, but that the fighting makes it so.

    I don’t see how this “wasn’t combat”.  Combat is not the exclusive province of the military. This story indicates that the officers surrounding the cabin were under a “constant barrage” of gunfire during the hours-long siege.

    All the dynamics were there:  bullets flying, officers being hurt and killed.  He was shooting at them, they were shooting at him.  I’m certain all of the physiological effects were present that you generally see in soldiers engaging the enemy: adrenaline dump, loss of fine motor skills, tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, etc.  It was different from military operations, but it was “combat” in all but the most idiosyncratic definitions of the word.

  2. Jane

    You are a rare one.  It’s sad that so many bright people, in some cases,  choose to ignore  the realities you have faced in your career because they are skewed by residues of political correctness.   They choose to distance themselves, not willing to climb out of their comfort.  You have backbone.  You’re not afraid to get your hands dirty in the trenches dealing with other than philosophical duels.  I salute your courage and your wisdom.  You’ve been there, done that.

  3. Skyler

    Coyote, I might believe what the police say about this had they not already made it clear that they intended to kill him no matter who got in the way.

    How did they know no one else was in the house? Did they even care, or would they be expecting to make apologies to someone like the owners of the cars they shot up earlier?

    They didn’t care. They wanted him dead and they made sure to find any reason to kill him. He was in a remote building that they could put under siege and wait. There are a lot of things they could have done. Perhaps what they did was best, but I’m not going to trust them, based on their record, to be the final word on the matter. The sad truth is that they will be. And they know it. And that’s why they think like combat and shoot innocents without even bothering to check vehicle color or get other identification. Dorner being killed by a cop’s bullet was more important than the lives of anyone else, the rule of law, or anything else.

  4. Sisyphus

    Resisting arrest with armed force. Case closed. 

    No incentive to surrender? If continued breathing is not an incentive, what are you expecting? A jet and a million dollars? Work release as a ski instructor in Aspen? 

    Every one of those officers pursuing that arrest was in imminent and deadly peril. And yet, if Dorner had laid down his weapons and assumed the position at any time, he would have had full access to the justice system.

    And, yes, cop killers have always been accorded special attention. Not only do their crimes directly impact the protection of civil order, but the expectation that police routinely operate in an environment where their badge and oath has made them the target of killers at-large is inhuman. Dragging out every cheap defense attorney gambit and rightly or wrongly impugning the character of LA or California law enforcement has little if any relevance to the facts of this case.

    Dorner was a murderous dog, and his own conduct led to his being put down like one. 

  5. Xcheesehead

    Skyler, your implication that the officers had a bloodlust and would not stop until they could hang their prey on a meat hook for pictures is out of bounds.

  6. Wylee Coyote
    Skyler:  And that’s why they think like combat and shoot innocents without even bothering to check vehicle color or get other identification. Dorner being killed by a cop’s bullet was more important than the lives of anyone else, the rule of law, or anything else.

    The officers at the cabin and the officers at the truck shooting are not only different people, but an entirely different agency, in an entirely different tactical scenario.  We can’t ignore the one simply by bringing up the other.

    This apparent belief some people have that every cop in Southern California is part of the same hive mind is a little weird.

  7. Jack Dunphy
    C
    Tom Meyer

    Mr. Dunphy, in your first post you wrote:

    In his position he has to say such things for public consumption, but surely he knew that cops everywhere werehoping that Dorner would meet his end right then and there,preferably from a cop’s bullet.

    How else can that be interpreted except to mean that police officers were itching for a fatal encounter?  Suicide would have removed Dorner from this world, just as easily as a private citizens’ weapon used in self-defense.  But youspecificallysaid law enforcement officers wanted him dead by their own hands, and now insist this is not what you said.

    Please explain. · 6 hours ago

    Edited 5 hours ago

    I meant that if Dorner was to die in the final encounter, as he seemed resigned to do, it would have been preferable — more just, if you will — that he fall at a police officer’s hand rather than his own. I do not suggest that he should have been killed if he tried to surrender.

  8. Byron Horatio

    Great post, Mr. Dunphy. I have been very critical of the California police especially over the shooting of the wrong vehicles and people last week. But I find nothing objectionable about how the police ended this. Had Dorner walked into a police department at any time last week, he would be alive and well in prison now. But no, he decided to murder even more people and attempt to kill as many police as possible from a bunker in the mountain. For those who are pooh-poohing police for killing him, what was the alternative to stopping a madman like him with no intention of keeping of surrendering?

  9. Skyler

    Empty, it was not an implication. It is a very intentional and clear accusation. And the evidence speaks for itself.

    - they shot up two vehicles without bothering to identify anyone or even get the vehicle description remotely correct.

    - they were heard gleefully howling that they were going to burn him in the house, without knowing if anyone else was in the house.

    - fellow police officers, well respected on this website, made it clear that they wanted him dead, and dead by their hands.

    So, no apologies. Not a hint. It’s a very clear accusation. They have no risk in executing him this way. Let’s all hope that we are not in their way next time, because clearly they become quite reckless in their bloodlust.

  10. Jack Dunphy
    C
    Skyler: I don’t like the comparison to combat. This is a mindset that I think is at the root of the problem. Yes, there was shooting, and yes it was quite dangerous. But it was not a military battle on some distant battlefield where the police had to charge into the blazing guns of a pillbox. This was a ski resort on Big Bear. I’ve been there many times. It’s not a battlefield.

    Skyler,

    I salute your service in the Marines, but the distinctions you draw are of scale, not of kind.  That this battle occurred near a ski resort you have visited is irrelevant.  Ramadi and Fallujah were not battlefields — until they were.  In Big Bear Tuesday there was a heavily armed adversary in a position of advantage and bent on killing as many police officers as he could.  The deputy who was killed is no less dead than a Marine killed in a more conventional battle in some faraway land.

  11. jkumpire

    Skyler,

    Very interesting points you bring up. Let me push you a bit.

    Nobody thinks what the cops did to the innocent people were good, but in the final shootout, what’s your alternative? You are strident in saying the police were wrong to do what they did, but you offer no alternative to get him to surrender.

    He’s a trained policeman using guns to kill innocents. He’s holed up in a cabin and refuses to come out. You are the chief cop on the scene, what do you do?

  12. Bryan G. Stephens

    A really bad man is dead, and people are unhappy about that?

    I mean, we are done, no trail, no stupid media crap, no chance some dumb LA jury will let the man off for murder (as they have done before). Less cost to the taxpayer, etc.

    What is y’all’s problem with this outcome exactly?

    In the old days, there was the whole “Dead or Alive” for these sorts of guys. You guys sound like a bunch of old women.

    Man up!

  13. Percival

    A preference is not a plan.  A desire for a particular outcome is not a conspiracy.

    One of the most important tasks in training new police officers is to weed out the knuckleheads.  Christopher Dorner spent the last week of his life validating the LAPD’s decision in his case.

  14. She

    You were right the first time. Never complain. Never explain.

  15. Steven Jones

    “Some folk just need killin’.”

    - American proverb

  16. Whiskey Sam
    Empty Nester: Skyler, your implication that the officers had a bloodlust and would not stop until they could hang their prey on a meat hook for pictures is out of bounds. · 1 hour ago

    Especially since Skyler admitted yesterday he hasn’t been following the story but has seen fit to make wild accusations ever since.  It’s clear his mind was made up before he knew any details, facts be damned.

  17. 10 cents

    We live in an imperfect world. Ideally this was not handled in the best way. Of course ideally Dorner would not have murdered people too. There is no such thing as perfect justice. If you kill a police officer you just lost your leniency card. I am sure Dorner knew this. Because of this I would almost consider this a suicide. I wish the world was not like this but it is.

  18. Skyler

    Mr. Dunphy, I am not comparing the dangers. I’m comparing the missions. The Marines may have a mission to destroy people or things and risk killing any and all nearby and be completely justified and legal in doing so. The police should never be in that position.

    Jk, it could very well be that everything done at Big Bear was properly done. The problem is that from their previous behavior, their orders to burn the house under the ruse of using tear gas, and their obvious glee in doing so, make me not trust their version of events.

    That is, it smells really bad and I won’t take their word for it that such actions were necessary. I think they murdered him, and will continue to believe that until some other neutral party can look into the matter. I have no idea who that could be.

    Once they lose trust by shooting up cars for no good cause, they deserve no benefit of doubt.

  19. Whiskey Sam
    Koblog: A father seeks revenge on the brutal rapist who killed his daughter, who may have been virtually ignored by an overworked police force. The father kills the rapist and is arrested for taking the law into his own hands, charged with murder. A policeman is murdered and the entire California police/sheriff/park cops complex does not sleep until the cop-killer is dead, dead, dead…in the process shooting and wounding two innocent female paper deliverers and shooting up and totaling a white skinny surfer dude’s pickup. Somehow, it’s wrong for civilians to seek revenge, but not for the police. · 7 hours ago

    We authorize police to use deadly force within the law as part of their job.  They are not ordinary citizens in that regard, so yes, a father taking revenge outside the law is going to be charged with murder (though you may have a hard time finding a jury who would convict him).

    There is still no evidence of the cops seeking revenge in shooting the two civilians.  It’s possible, but from the details known so far, it does not sound like that was what happened.

  20. Whiskey Sam
    Skyler:

    That is, it smells really bad and I won’t take their word for it that such actions were necessary. I think they murdered him, and will continue to believe that until some other neutral party can look into the matter. I have no idea who that could be.

    Once they lose trust by shooting up cars for no good cause, they deserve no benefit of doubt. · 4 minutes ago

    If you’re going to lay a charge of murder at their feet when you haven’t even been following the case, there is no one’s word you will ever take to change your mind.  You again make the charge that they were shooting up cars for no good reason which is not borne out by the facts of what occurred in a single incident of mistaken identity.  It’s apparent that you don’t really care what actually happened as long as you can push your argument that the police are out of control murderers making them morally equivalent to Dorner.

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