Christopher Dorner’s law enforcement career did not turn out like he had planned, and no doubt he had big plans.
Dorner was a police officer at a time when blacks were rising through America’s law enforcement ranks, and were even becoming chiefs. The Los Angeles Police Department had its first black chief in 1992.
Like people of all skin colors, though, Dorner’s career hit a rough spot. He got fired. People get fired every day. It’s so common there’s a legal specialty – wrongful termination – devoted to it.
Dorner exercised all the legal rights available to him. As a cop he had more rights than most of us. He lost each legal round, and he seethed. The first victim he gunned down was the daughter of the man who represented him before the LAPD disciplinary board.
In the 23-page manifesto he wrote justifying his killing rampage, Dorner should have taken the advice that he offered Mitt Romney: “Stop being a sore loser. You could’ve exited graciously and still contributed significantly to public service… .”
Throughout his manifesto, Dorner sounds narcissistic and self-absorbed. Twice he calls himself a “sleeping giant.” He bestows praise on numerous celebrities as if it were an honor for them to be acknowledged by him (e.g., Michelle Obama, Kate Winslet, Colin Powell). He talks about his likes and dislikes as if he were being interviewed by Oprah.
Even if everything Dorner alleged were true, it would not justify murdering innocent people who never harmed him. As it is, there are no allegations in his manifesto that are as shocking as his actions.
Cops take cell phone pictures of bodies at crime scenes? Long before there were cell phones, cops were collecting photos of dead bodies – sometimes sharing them inappropriately. Ask any experienced police reporter (who may have found some of those photos interesting). These days, with everyone possessing a cell phone, a homicide victim’s final moments could easily be captured by a civilian.
Cops make light of homicide victims and use the overtime to buy expensive toys? Some cops get cynical when family and friends of victims would rather align with the killers than cooperate with the police. As for the expensive toys, what people choose to spend their money on is their business – not a justification for murder.
Cops close ranks behind “the blue line” to protect one another? That blue line isn’t what it used to be and hasn’t been for a while. Cops snitch off cops all the time. Ask any experienced police reporter if they’ve ever had a cop dish dirt on another cop. Office politics exist everywhere. Police agencies are no exception.
In Dorner’s case, he falsely accused his training officer of brutality. In his manifesto he lays out his allegations against this officer – a female – as if they are fact and not in doubt. He rails against her with an obsession that suggests there was something else bothering him that had nothing to do with brutality. Had this officer rebuffed him? Did Dorner not like women in positions of authority?
The most familiar crutch Dorner leans on, of course, is the word “nigger.” He was traveling in a van with several other officers, and one of them – who was not black – used the word.
“Nigger” is sacred ground for a guy like Dorner. This is a private club open only to him and others who share his skin color. That’s racist, but it has become an accepted practice in the U.S. Unfortunately, it only adds to the special authority that a man like Dorner feels he possesses.
Dorner reminisces about being a kid and staying up late to watch Richard Pryor’s comedy act and laughing til his sides ached.
Did he listen to “That Nigger’s Crazy,” and if he did what did he learn? That black men have good cause to go mad and beat on people? Did he listen to “Bicentennial Nigger,” and if he did what did he learn? That the only people to ever be enslaved were black folk, and all slave owners were white?
Perhaps as an adult Dorner didn’t notice how Pryor’s life turned out. One of the highest-paid black entertainers in the world, who had success beyond what most people can only dream of, Pryor still carried a grudge and ended up freebasing cocaine and beating his wives.
Had Dorner prevailed at his disciplinary hearing and continued to work as a cop, what new perceived injustices would have set him off?
While Dorner was still the subject of a manhunt, here in Portland we were talking about a white comedian who had been scheduled to appear in black face at a gay club.
On “Think Out Loud,” a local public radio show, a white newspaper reporter from The Oregonian and a black, self-described “media watcher” named Karol Collymore discussed the controversy. Although the show sold out, it was canceled because of the outcry from people like Collymore.
Collymore was asked when it would ever be all right for a white comedian to appear in black face. Her answer: When she and the white guest on the show “can be equal in the same space,” when they could get the same job and their “employment levels are equal.”
Apparently as long as there is one white person on the planet who has a job that a black person wants and doesn’t have, the world will be racist.
When I heard that Dorner was holed up in a cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains I thought about another cop who was fired and felt wronged: Stephen K. Peach, formerly of the San Bernardino Police Department.
In 1998, Peach was shot on two separate occasions by fellow officers. The department ruled the shootings accidental, but after Peach was fired for having a consensual relationship with a prostitute, he alleged that one of the shootings was intentional. He also claimed he was fired after he blew the whistle on another officer who was raping prostitutes. (Actually, a prostitute complained about the officer, who was subsequently arrested, convicted and sent to prison.)
Anyway, Peach denied wrongdoing but was never reinstated. He fought back by writing a book: “Friendly Fire? The Good, The Bad and The Corrupt.”
Dorner probably never read it. Peach was a white cop.
– Pamela Fitzsimmons