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.