Like many people, I was riveted by the story of Christopher Dorner, an ex-LAPD officer turned rogue assassin, that has been dominating the headlines over the past week. I checked the news off and on daily during the manhunt, equally curious and repulsed by what I saw: a man once sworn “to protect and to serve” murdering police officers and their families, attempting the murder of many more, and assaulting senior citizens all because of a grudge he had over being fired by the department years before. He was, in my estimation, one of the bad guys.
But others didn’t see it quite like I did. Some have reacted to him as more of a folk hero; a man wronged by the system now out for revenge. They were cheering for him to even the score. They were cheering for him to get away. It seems he was seen as a modern day Rambo, striking back against the social injustices endured by so many.
No doubt the LAPD made major errors during this ordeal. For instance, the two innocent woman who were shot in a horrible case of mistaken identity was simply inexcusable. But it didn’t surprise me. The way this story was sensationalized would be shocking if it wasn’t basically par for the course for American for-profit news organizations. The media created a circus, and camera crews were basically embedded with SWAT teams. The pressure was intense to find Dorner, and the whole world was watching. Errors were likely to be made under such scrutiny. That it almost cost more people their lives is scary.
For all intents and purposes, the end came Tuesday evening during a shootout at a cabin in the Seven Oaks mountain community of San Bernardino. Yet another officer was killed and so, too, was Dorner, after several incendiary tear gas canisters known as “burners” were fired into the location, quickly setting the cabin ablaze. At first, I wasn’t sure whether or not I agreed with this tactic. It was, more or less, an attempt at executing a suspect who was cornered. Couldn’t there have been a better way to end the standoff? However, I’ve come to the conclusion that Dorner’s deadly force was met with the deadly force of the officers. There is little difference between having him die in a fire than there would be him being shot in the head. Dorner himself said that he wouldn’t come out of this alive. What difference does it make how he was killed?
Regardless of whether or not Dorner was improperly terminated by the LAPD over 4 years ago, or who in the department he was still pissed at, it didn’t give him license to murder innocent people. He was an unstable man who did the wrong thing, and it’s a good thing for society that he wasn’t a cop anymore. Ultimately, Christopher Dorner met the end he set up for himself. He was no hero, and his actions throughout this last week are not at all to be justified or in any way revered.
UPDATE 02-17-13: Dorner’s autopsy reveals he died as the result of suicide by a single gunshot to the head.