I came late to the Chris Dorner story, the killer ex-cop whose manifesto threatened ongoing violence against the LAPD, his former employer. But in the aftermath of the torching of the mountain cabin where Mr. Dorner was hiding, the stories I see reveal not only the horror of one mentally ill, maverick ex-Marine, but also the mayhem that resulted from the police pursuit.
See The Los Angeles Times story from February 7 of two women shot because they drove a car fitting the description of the suspect’s vehicle.
See also the Huffington Post coverage of police shooting incidents during the manhunt for Chris Dorner.
While I understand the threat Mr. Dorner posed to the policemen involved in these shootings and I commend peace officers for putting their lives on the line every day, I am disturbed by the “shoot first, ask questions later” approach that law enforcement took in these cases. Officers didn’t bother to identify the gender or ethnicity of the suspects before opening fire on two Latina women and one white man. What happened to “wait until you see the whites of their eyes”?
Entertainment media abounds in heros who take the law into their own hands when they feel wronged by the rusty wheels of the establishment. Can we be surprised at Chris Dorner stepping into a Bruce Willis character’s fictional shoes and making all too real the vigilante “me against the world” mentality we glorify in the stories that surround us?
Mr. Dorner was trained to kill by the U.S. military. We put the guns in his hands, both as a Marine and as a member of the Los Angeles Police Department. As a society, we are responsible to a small degree for whatever went wrong in his psyche to lead him to his twisted plan for vengeance. And as a society we must defend the public safety that the our protectors have pledged to us.
I have no scathing critique nor brilliant solutions to offer. But I do have a question: how can innocent people feel safe when those hired to “protect and serve” perpetrate violence against their own communities?
In this case, the police officers involved in the manhunt seem just as trigger happy as the suspect they were pursuing. Where have all the good guys gone?