Chickens come home to roost: Chris Dorner & Los Angeles police brutality

By on February 11, 2013

Los Angeles — To protect and serve? For a growing number of Los Angeles residents, that motto is now in question. This stems from recent incidents involving Chris Dorner, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer and veteran, incidents which have apparently made it acceptable for police to target with deadly force those whom they deem suspicious.

Dorner has been in the national news due to his alleged online targeting of LAPD officers.  His “manifesto” details his eyewitness accounts of fellow police officers’ acts of racist violence.  Administrators covered them up from 2005 to 2008, when Dorner was fired for supposedly lying about a training officer’s racist police brutality. Those officers and their co-conspirators allegedly are on his hit list, and their families targeted.

Police say that a named cop’s daughter and her fiancé, who were killed, may have been his first victims.  Dorner allegedly shot two Riverside, Calif., cops, not on the list; one died.  The LAPD police chief, Charlie Beck, is offering a million dollar bounty on Dorner for his capture.

Giving details in a sometimes meandering “manifesto,” Dorner explains the rage built up by experiencing racism since childhood. He discusses an incident that turned him towards violence: When he was with two other cops, one repeatedly used the “n” word. Dorner asked him to stop. When the officer refused, he choked him. The other officer, siding with the racist cop, attacked Dorner. The cops were reprimanded.

Dorner was fired in 2008 after he witnessed his white training officer, Sgt. Teresa Evans, kick an unarmed and handcuffed a person of color, Christopher Gettler, in the stomach and face.  An LAPD Board of Rights hearing found Dorner guilty of filing a false report about this. Then, he was dismissed.  Dorner said that Gettler and Gettler’s father testified in court that Evans kicked Gettler. Those claims were ignored.

Dorner’s post reveals that he is severely depressed and unconcerned about death.  The police are using his meandering on topics as a reason to dismiss his in-depth allegations against the police. The cops insist they are right about their decision exonerating Evans of misconduct.

Are Dorner’s claims legitimate?

Former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, Robin Sax, who is now Fox 11 News’ legal analyst, told the local TV station Feb. 7 that she uncovered the LAPD’s video interview of Gettler and 21 legal documents relating to incidents during Dorner’s LAPD employment, which Dorner had detailed.

Sax compared Dorner’s allegations against documents and said, “There were certain aspects that had this overwhelming feeling of truth to them.” She mentioned Dorner’s appeal of the Board of Rights’ decision to the Superior Court of California. The court stated that they couldn’t decide Evans’ guilt or innocence.

The LAPD ignored the court and protected Evans, reiterating that Dorner had filed a false report.

Dorner’s purported statements about police brutality resonate, especially in communities of color.  He alleged, “I saw some of the most vile things humans can inflict on others as a police officer in Los Angeles … in … police stations and shops (cruisers). The enemy combatants in LA are not the citizens and suspects, it’s the police officers. …

“This department has not changed from the Daryl Gates and Mark Fuhrman days. Those officers are still employed and have all [been] promoted to Command staff and supervisory positions. … An officer …  seen on … videotape striking [Rodney] King multiple times with a baton on 3/3/91 is … now a Captain. …  Evans has since [been] promoted to Sergeant after kicking Mr. Gettler in the face. … Same as LAPD did with the officers … involved in the May Day melee at MacArthur Park. They promoted them to Sergeant.”  (myfoxla.com)

The contradictions in Dorner’s political views and admission of mental health challenges in his alleged posts do not negate the legitimate rage he expresses surrounding incidents familiar to many.

One example confirming Dorner’s view of the LAPD arose during the police search for him, where public safety was their last concern.

On Feb. 7, police shot more than 40 bullets at 71-year-old Emma Hernandez and her daughter, Margie Carranza, 47, while they were delivering newspapers in their car.  They didn’t have any connection to Dorner, but the police opened fire on them — without warning — because they wrongly perceived that their vehicle was the same type as Dorner’s. The cops were put on paid administrative leave for shooting the women, while Hernandez, who was shot twice in the back, is in intensive care.

Perhaps the racist injustice here is the reason why readers’ comments following online news stories and at progressive media websites reflect an overwhelming amount of empathy for Dorner, if not support.  Despite all the pro-police TV shows and news, and justifications of police brutality, many people are unsympathetic to the police in this case. Many are openly showing their disdain for the police or sharing their experiences of racism and brutality.

Sax stated: “[Dorner] is shining a light on this. We’re getting [many] calls from people who want to share their experiences of potential racism, corruption and the code of silence.” She said that law enforcement individuals are reporting their experiences facing racism.

Perhaps this heat on the LAPD inspired Los Angeles Police Chief Beck to reverse his initial dismissive attitude towards Dorner’s allegations. On Feb. 8, he announced that he was reopening Dorner’s termination.

The violence of rage and war, and the loss of lives of noncombatants that are affected by this are unfortunate and tragic for the families involved.  However, in evaluating any situation, an equal sign cannot be drawn between the victims of systemic racism and the overwhelming violence carried out by the LAPD and police forces countrywide that brutalize, terrorize and kill members of working-class communities, especially those of color.

The lack of health care for veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and depression, who are discarded after their deployments abroad, must be addressed.  The violent system that represses its population to maintain the status quo of haves and have nots must be addressed.  History shows that the more people suffer unemployment, homelessness and an inability to attain basic needs, the more the state increases repression to squash protest.

What caused Dorner’s rage to build? This racist system, which he saw from inside the institution that’s designed to proliferate racism, sexism and homophobia, instill fear and promote violence.

If we want the violence to stop, it must be continually exposed.   The police need to be disarmed not just in Los Angeles, but in Baltimore, New York City, Houston, Chicago and every city, large and small.  U.S. wars at home and abroad must stop.

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