After Dorner

The case of Christopher Dorner, in which an ex-cop, mad about getting fired, decided to kill his former colleagues, was a nightmare for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). It was also a nightmare in Torrance for drivers and a female passenger in two vehicles similar to the suspect’s car.

We think that now that Dorner is no longer a public menace, it is necessary to address the secondary—but no less important—effects of the massive manhunt in Los Angeles.

There is no doubt that Dorner was an extremely dangerous suspect who was ready to kill those he thought had hurt him, their families and any law enforcement officer who crossed his path. His written testimony demonstrated an unbalanced state of mind. That, combined with police training and heavy weapons, raised his level of dangerousness.

However, police are always expected to show a professional attitude and be careful when firing their weapons. What happened in Torrance gives the impression that the opposite was the case.

The bullet holes in a newspaper-delivery truck, in addition to cars and houses nearby, make it apparent that there was a one-sided barrage of bullets against unarmed people. In one vehicle, two women were wounded, one of them older than 70; in the other incident, a bit later, police shot at someone who did not even remotely resemble Dorner.

The example of what happened in these incidents, as extraordinary as the manhunt was, does not give much peace of mind about the criteria involved in using firearms, at least for the officers involved.

These incidents must be investigated, because a tragedy was avoided only thanks to awful marksmanship. The fact that a tragedy did not happen does not mean that incidents of this nature, which have all the potential to cost taxpayers millions of dollars, should not be investigated.