Christopher Dorner shootings and manhunt

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Christopher Dorner shootings and manhunt
Location Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County
Date February 3–February 12, 2013
Target Police officers and their families
Attack type
Siege, murder
Weapons
Deaths 5 (including the perpetrator)
Non-fatal injuries
6 (3 by the perpetrator; 2 by LAPD; 1 by Torrance P.D.)
Suspected perpetrator
Christopher Dorner

On February 3, 2013, a series of shootings began in Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside counties in California, United States, in which the victims were law enforcement officers, their families, or civilians misidentified as the suspect. Christopher Dorner, 33, an honorably discharged Navy Reservist and former Los Angeles police officer, was named as a suspect wanted in connection with a series of shootings that occurred throughout Southern California that killed four people and wounded three others. The rampage ended on February 12, 2013, when Dorner committed suicide during a stand-off with police at a cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains.

A manifesto posted[2][3][4] on Facebook,[5] which police say was written by Dorner,[6] declared "unconventional and asymmetric warfare" upon the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), their families, and their associates, until the LAPD admitted publicly he was fired in retaliation for reporting excessive force.

In two separate incidents during the manhunt, police shot at three civilians unrelated to Dorner, mistaking their pickup trucks for the vehicle being driven by Dorner. One of the civilians was hit by the police gunfire, another was wounded by shattered glass, and a third individual was injured when police rammed his vehicle and opened fire.[7][8]

Suspect[edit]

Main article: Christopher Dorner
Christopher Dorner.

Christopher Dorner was born in New York state and grew up in Southern California in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Dorner stated that he was the only African American student in his school from first grade to seventh grade and that he had altercations due to his race. When he was a teenager, Dorner decided to become a police officer and joined a youth program offered by the Police Department in La Palma.[9] Dorner graduated from Southern Utah University in 2001, with a major in political science and a minor in psychology. While there, he was a football running back from 1999 to 2000.

At the time of the shootings in February 2013, Christopher Dorner lived in La Palma. Neighbors described him as a member of an admired, well-liked family who usually kept to himself. Dorner was previously married, with no children. Court records show his wife filed for divorce in 2007.[10]

Naval Reservist[edit]

Dorner is a former Naval Reserve lieutenant (O-3). He commanded a security unit at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, served with a Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit from June 23, 2004 to February 28, 2006, and was deployed to Bahrain with Coastal Riverine Group Two from November 3, 2006 to April 23, 2007.[11] He was discharged from the Navy Reserve on February 1, 2013.[12] During his time as a reservist, he received ribbons for marksmanship and a medal for pistol expertise.[13]

Termination from the LAPD[edit]

Dorner joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 2005, completing police academy training in 2006. Shortly afterward, his duties as a probationary policeman were interrupted when he was deployed as a U.S. Navy reservist to Bahrain for 13 months. On his return in July 2007, he was paired with training officer Teresa Evans to complete his probationary training. According to the Los Angeles Times, Evans said that on Dorner's first day working with her, Dorner told her that he was going to sue the LAPD after he completed his probationary period.[9]

Dorner, while still a probationary officer, filed a complaint accusing Evans of kicking Christopher Gettler, a suspect who suffered from schizophrenia with severe dementia,[14] during an arrest, July 28, 2007, after Gettler was tased and had given up.[15][16][17] The LAPD investigated the complaint. Three hotel employees who witnessed "most" of the incident who were interviewed by LAPD detectives claimed that they did not see the training officer kick the man. Gettler was brought to the police station and given medical treatment for injuries to his face, but he did not mention being kicked at that time.[9] Later that day when he was returned to his father, Gettler told his father that he had been kicked by an officer, and his father testified to that at Dorner's disciplinary hearing.[9][18] In a videotaped interview with Dorner's attorney, shown at the hearing, Christopher Gettler stated that he was kicked in the face by a female police officer on the day in the place in question; however, when Gettler testified at the hearing, his responses to questioning were described as "generally . . . incoherent and nonresponsive."[19][20]

For seven months during the investigation of Dorner's complaint, Teresa Evans was assigned to desk duty and wasn't allowed to earn money outside of her LAPD job. The investigation concluded that there was no kicking and investigators later decided that Dorner had lied.[21] Dorner was fired by the LAPD in 2008 for making false statements.[18] Dorner's attorney at the board hearing, former LAPD captain Randal Quan, said that Dorner was treated unfairly and was being made a scapegoat.[15][22][23] In his online manifesto, Dorner cited this as a case of wrongful dismissal, and one of his primary motivations for the shootings.

Failed appeal[edit]

Dorner appealed his termination by the LAPD Board of Rights by filing a writ of mandamus with the Los Angeles County Superior Court.[19] Judge David Yaffe wrote that he was "uncertain whether the training officer kicked the suspect or not" but nevertheless upheld the department's decision to fire Dorner, according to the Los Angeles Times.[24] Yaffe ruled that he would presume that the LAPD's accusations that Dorner's report was false would stand even though he did not know if Dorner's report of Officer Evans kicking the suspect was false.[25] This enraged Dorner as he screamed in disbelief at the end of the hearing "I told the truth! How could this (ruling) happen?" [26] This anger was repeated in The Dorner Manifesto.

Dorner then appealed to the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District, which affirmed on October 3, 2011, the lower court's ruling. Under California law, administrative findings (in this case by the LAPD) are entitled to a presumption of correctness and the petitioner (in this case Dorner) bears the burden of proving that they were incorrect. The appeals court concluded that the LAPD Board of Rights had substantial evidence for its finding that Dorner was not credible in his allegations against Sergeant Evans.[19]

On February 9, 2013, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck ordered a review of the disciplinary case that led to Dorner's dismissal.[27][28] Chief Beck said officials would re-examine the allegations by Dorner that his law enforcement career was undone by racist colleagues.[28][29][30]

Expressed motive[edit]

Dorner detailed his motivation in his online manifesto.[2] Dorner claimed that as retaliation for reporting excessive force by a colleague, the LAPD terminated his employment for making false statements. This cost Dorner not only his job, but also his security clearances and thus his Navy career. He claimed that the LAPD would ordinarily file criminal charges against any officer accused and terminated for filing a false police report. He claimed the LAPD did not charge him "because you knew I was innocent and a criminal court would find me innocent and expose your department for suppressing the truth and retaliation".

Dorner issued a single demand: a public admission by the LAPD that his termination was in retaliation for reporting excessive force. He also asked journalists to pursue what he called "the truth", pointing out specific lines of investigation for reporters to follow under the Freedom of Information Act, and said that "video evidence" was sent to multiple news agencies.

Manhunt and timeline[edit]

In the wake of the Quan–Lawrence shooting and the posting of Dorner's manifesto, law enforcement mounted a widespread manhunt for Dorner that spread from California to include Nevada and Mexico.[31][32]

On February 7, the burning remains of Dorner's vehicle, a dark gray 2005 Nissan Titan truck, were found by Daniel McGowan on a remote fire trail near Big Bear Lake, about 80 miles from Los Angeles.[33][34] Investigators spread out to search for Dorner in the surrounding area, and about 125 officers went from door to door.[16] All schools in the Bear Valley Unified School District were placed into a state of lockdown.[35]

Protection details were set up for over 40 potential targets of Dorner's, and thousands of police were assigned to patrol Southern California's highways. The LAPD also took police off of motorcycles in order to protect them.[16]

February 1, 2013[edit]

Anderson Cooper of CNN received a package at his office containing a DVD that states Dorner's case against the LAPD.[36] The package also contained a bullet-ridden challenge coin issued by LAPD Chief William Bratton and a note inscribed with "1MOA" (1 minute of angle), implying that the coin was shot at 100 meters.[37]

February 3[edit]

In the city of Irvine, in the evening hours, 28-year-old Monica Quan, and her fiance, 27-year-old Keith Lawrence, were found shot to death in Lawrence's parked white Kia Optima, outside their condominium complex.[38] Quan, an assistant women's basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton,[13] was the daughter of Randal Quan, a former Los Angeles Police Department captain[39] and lawyer who formerly represented Dorner during Dorner's dismissal hearing from the LAPD. Lawrence was a campus police officer for University of Southern California.

February 4[edit]

A manifesto was published online, purportedly by Dorner,[3] outlining his experiences and stating his motives for the shootings as being to clear his name.[9][a] In it he wrote, "I will not be alive to see my name cleared. That's what this is about, my name."[16] Dorner's manifesto had also specifically named Randal Quan and his family as targets, so Irvine police named Dorner as the primary suspect in the murders of Monica Quan and Keith Lawrence on the afternoon of February 6, 2013.[3] The manifesto said that Quan had failed to represent Dorner's interests, in favor of those of the department.[40] Dorner reported specific acts of specific officers participating in the retaliation but their names have been redacted by media sources at the request of law enforcement who have cited officer safety concerns.[41]

February 5[edit]

According to military sources, Dorner checked into Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, but skipped checkout procedures when leaving.[42]

February 7[edit]

Two LAPD officers were driving to a protection detail where they were assigned as security for one of the officers potentially targeted by Dorner, when they were flagged down by R.L. McDaniel at about 1:00 am. McDaniel reported seeing a man matching Dorner's description at a gas station in Corona. The officers investigated the report, and they were following a pickup truck when the driver stopped, got out, and fired a rifle at them, grazing the head of one officer.[13][32]

About twenty minutes after that shooting, two police officers were ambushed while stopped in their marked patrol unit at a red traffic light in the city of Riverside, at approximately 1:35 am. One officer, Michael Crain, died shortly after the shooting; the other was rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition for surgery, but survived.[31][32][43]

About an hour and 25 minutes after the Riverside shooting, at approximately 3:00 am, a man matching Dorner's description tried to steal a boat in San Diego, telling the boat's captain that he would take the boat to Mexico.[44][45] A federal criminal complaint was filed against Dorner this same day for allegedly fleeing California to avoid prosecution.[46]

February 9[edit]

CNN reported that the Los Angeles Police Department was re-opening its investigation into Dorner's dismissal from the LAPD so as to reassure the public that the police were doing everything in their power to capture Dorner.[47]

February 10[edit]

Authorities offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of Dorner.[48] For the first time, Dorner's actions were described as being a form of "domestic terrorism".[49] With Dorner believed to be hiding somewhere in the San Bernardino Mountains, an unmanned aerial vehicle was deployed to aid the search from the air amid fears that Dorner would head for the Mexican border.[50]

Later this day, a Lowe's home improvement store in Northridge, Los Angeles, was evacuated based on reports of a possible sighting of Dorner.[51]

February 11[edit]

The Riverside District Attorney filed formal charges against Dorner for the murder of a police officer and the attempted murder of three other officers.[52]

February 12[edit]

Police raided a hotel in Tijuana, Mexico, overnight, based on a tip that Dorner was there. Authorities also discovered surveillance footage of Dorner purchasing scuba diving gear at a sporting goods store in Torrance.[53]

A message posted on February 12 to the Twitter account of the San Bernardino County district attorney's office said: [54] [55] [56][57] [58]

The sheriff has asked all members of the press to stop tweeting immediately. It is hindering officer safety. #Dorner—

The message was removed[59][60][61] within "a few hours." [62]

Mountain cabin standoff[edit]

San Bernandino deputies responded to a report of a carjacking of a white Dodge truck on February 12 at 12:22 pm (PST) and began looking for the vehicle on the ground and from the air. The car driver was not harmed. Fish and Game officers were first to spot the car with Dorner. Dorner shot two San Bernardino sheriff's deputies in the area of Big Bear Lake, California. The deputies were airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where one died and the other was alive and in surgery. The San Bernardino deputy killed was later identified as Detective Jeremiah MacKay.[63] The shootout began after deputies responded. The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department said Dorner was barricaded in a cabin, near the command center of the man hunt, in a mountainous rural area northeast of Angelus Oaks, California and the building was surrounded by law enforcement.[64] The Los Angeles Times reported that there might be hostages in the cabin with Dorner.[65] A three-mile perimeter was set up around the cabin and residents were told to remain inside with their doors locked.[66]

Police initially attempted to get Dorner out of the cabin by using ordinary "cold" tear gas and demanding over loudspeakers that he surrender. When Dorner did not respond, police used a demolition vehicle to knock down most walls of the building. They then shot incendiary gas canisters called "burners" into the cabin, starting the cabin on fire. (In a radio transmission obtained by the Los Angeles Times, a law enforcement officer can be heard saying, "We're going to go forward with the plan, with the burner.") Shortly thereafter, a single gunshot from the cabin was heard.[67] As the fire continued, ammunition was exploding from within the cabin. Officials did not try to put out the fire.[68] Law enforcement experts differ on whether using pyrotechnic devices to end the standoff, instead of waiting Dorner out, was justified.[67]

In the evening of February 12, Los Angeles police and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office denied reports that a body believed to be that of Dorner had been recovered from a burning cabin. In a press conference, LAPD Commander Andrew Smith stated that no body had been removed from the site, adding that reports of a body being identified were untrue as the cabin area was "too hot to make entry".[69][70]

On February 13, it was reported that human remains have been found in the search for Dorner's body in the cabin.[71][72][73] A wallet with a California driver's license with the name "Christopher Dorner" was found in the rubble of the cabin.[74] Also on that day, the San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said that deputies did not intentionally burn down the cabin. It was also said that deputies knocked on the door of the cabin during the search for Dorner, but moved on when they received no answer.[75]

February 14[edit]

Medical examiners confirmed during an autopsy, using dental records, that the charred body found in the burned out cabin was in fact that of Christopher Dorner,[76] thereby settling conclusively any question as to whether he had died.

February 15[edit]

The sheriff's office announced the autopsy showed Dorner died from a single gunshot wound to the head, with evidence indicating that it was self-inflicted.[77][78] At the same news conference, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon continued to deny that deputies deliberately set the cabin on fire. "Sheriff's Capt. Gregg Herbert, who led the assault on the cabin, said the canisters were used only as a last resort... 'This was our only option,' Herbert said of the pyrotechnic tear gas, adding that the potential for igniting a fire was taken into account."[79]

Civilian casualties[edit]

In two separate incidents in the early morning hours of February 7, 2013, police fired on people who turned out to be unrelated to Dorner. Dorner was not present at either incident.[80]

At about 5:30 am (PST), at least seven[81] Los Angeles Police Department officers on a protection detail of an unnamed LAPD official's residence in the 19500 block of Redbeam Street [82] in the Los Angeles County city of Torrance opened fire on the back of a light blue Toyota Tacoma and shot its two female Hispanic occupants, a mother and daughter[81] aged 47 and 71 delivering newspapers for the Los Angeles Times.[7][83] The vehicle, according to officers, was spotted exiting a freeway and heading to the area of the residence that officers were protecting, was thought by police to match the description of Dorner's 2005 gray Nissan Titan and was moving without its headlights on.[80][84] The two victims of the shooting were later identified as Margie Carranza, age 47, and her 71-year-old mother Emma Hernandez. Hernandez was shot in the back and Carranza received wounds to her hand. Their attorney claimed police "had no idea who was in that vehicle" when they opened fire, and that nothing about his clients or their vehicle matched the descriptions given of the suspect or his truck.[85] The two women stated that they were given no warning prior to being fired upon.[86]

A neighbor said the truck was used every day to deliver newspapers, and the women who used it kept their headlights off so as to not wake people up.[87] The two women were injured, but both survived.[88][89] The LAPD has started an internal investigation into the multiple-officer-involved shooting. According to their attorney Glen Jonas, 102 bullets holes were found in the truck.[90] The LAPD has declined to confirm the total number of officers involved or how many bullets were fired or if any verbal warnings were given to the women before the shooting began,[84] but seven LAPD officers remained off field duty pending the investigation as of late February 2013.[82]

Approximately 25 minutes after that incident, officers from the Torrance Police Department struck and opened fire on another vehicle.[8] Like the first shooting, the incident involved a vehicle that police claimed resembled the description of Dorner's truck, but was later discovered to be a black Honda Ridgeline driven by a white male.[91][92] The victim of the second weapon discharge by police was David Perdue, who was on his way to the beach for some early morning surfing before work. A Torrance Police Department police cruiser slammed into Perdue's pickup and Torrance police officers opened fire. Perdue was not hit by any of the bullets, but reportedly suffered injuries as a result of the car impact.[8] Police claim that Perdue's pickup truck "matched the description" of the one belonging to Dorner. However, the Los Angeles Times reported that the vehicle involved was once again a different make and color to that of the suspect's, and that Perdue "looks nothing like" the suspect.[8]

Settlement paid[edit]

In April 2013 the Los Angeles Police Department paid a $4.2 million settlement to Margie Carranza and Emma Hernandez, the two women who were mistakenly shot by police on the morning of February 7, 2013.[93]

Use-of-force policy violation[edit]

On February 4, 2014, it was announced that LAPD chief Charlie Beck had determined that eight officers violated the LAPD's use-of-force policy and would be disciplined. Beck noted that California state law prevents him from disclosing the nature of the discipline publicly, but that discipline could range "from extensive retraining up to termination."[94][95]

Reward[edit]

On Feb. 10, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of Christopher Dorner, and because the terms of the offer were not carefully stipulated, judges had to later decide how the reward would be divided. Ultimately, the reward was divided four ways with $800,000 going to James and Karen Reynolds, who were tied up by Dorner in their Big Bear cabin before he stole their vehicle, $150,000 to Daniel McGowan, and $50,000 to R. L. McDaniel.[96]

Protests against the LAPD[edit]

There were online protests against the LAPD as well as a protest at police HQ on February 16, 2013.[97] Protestors stated they object to the manner in which Dorner's dismissal was handled, the reckless shooting of civilians by the LAPD during the manhunt, and allegations that the police had intentionally set fire to the cabin in which Dorner was hiding.[98]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ An unredacted copy of Dorner's manifesto is published online: "Read Murder Suspect Chris Dorner's Online Manifesto About Slayings (unredacted)". KTTV/MyFoxLA.com. February 6, 2013. Retrieved February 7, 2013. 

References[edit]

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