Killer ex-cop causes justice re-evaluation
The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of information and confusion for international news media, and it’s all thanks to one man: Christopher Dorner. A former Los Angeles Police Department officer and U.S. Navy Reservist, Dorner was involved as the primary suspect of a series of shootings in Southern California that resulted in four homicides (including two police officers). The homicides led to a manhunt that spanned both the U.S. and Mexico, and the city of Los Angeles even placed a $1 million bounty on Dorner’s head. It is believed that Dorner was killed in a mountain cabin near Big Bear Lake on Feb. 12 after the cabin caught fire following a gun battle with police.
While it would be easy to chalk up the incident to misdirected rage or mental illness, the Dorner case is a puzzle. In a “manifesto” that he sent to the KTLA news station, Dorner outlined every reason for his mission of violence and revenge. After being let go from his position in the LAPD for what he claimed to be unjust reasons related to his complaints about his fellow officers’ wrongdoings, Dorner wrote his manifesto to voice his concerns with the state of the justice system as it stands.
He called to his fellow officers: “Those of you who ’go along to get along’ have no backbone and destroy the foundation of courage. You are the enablers of those who are guilty of misconduct. You are just as guilty as those who break the code of ethics and oath you swore.”
Another major component of concern for the Dorner case is the question of whether drones with thermal imaging cameras were used in the hunt for Dorner’s whereabouts. While this wouldn’t be the first reported instance of drones targeting U.S. citizens on American soil—the U.K. newspaper The Daily Mail published a story in 2011 about an anti-government separatist family in North Dakota that was tracked by drones after failing to return six cows that had wandered onto their property—it is certainly a hotly debated subject of concern.
The use of a drone was supposedly going to be justified by the fact that Dorner was suspected of having escaped into a mountain range where he would be virtually undetected without the help of thermal detection. But the use of drones to hunt American citizens on U.S. soil should concern Nevadans in particular.
Drones are a major defense contribution from Nevada’s military bases, so the state is in a prime spot for activism against their use. Drones have already been used to kill innocent civilians overseas, and it would now appear that they are being used as a solution to treat U.S. citizens like terrorists.
The entire Dorner case, from his manifesto to the resulting manhunt, is a monument to the nature of our justice system as it stands today. If outrage against injustice and lack of due process can lead to murder, and if that resulting murder leads to further injustice and lack of due process, are we caught in a self-destructive cycle?
It’s a slippery slope, one that could lead to a continued violation of our rights and our dignity as human beings. While Dorner’s homicidal methods of garnering attention to his cause are unequivocally flawed, his manifesto reveals that he had a message to express, and he felt that he had run out of options. Dorner’s detailed account of institutionalized sexism, racism, injustice and violence in the LAPD against fellow officers and citizens are a cautionary tale for all police officers, even in Nevada. And the dangerous new precedent of using drones to seek out fugitives on U.S. soil is one that should terrify and enrage.