Lessons from a Rogue Ex-Cop

dornerThere is no excuse. There is no excuse for killing the innocent children of those with whom you have had a disagreement. There is no excuse for killing innocent people simply because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no excuse for killing cops.

Let there be no mistake: Rogue ex-LAPD officer, Christopher Dorner was unjustified and completely wrong. He met the end he brought upon himself and I will never experience an ounce of sadness for the agony that must have been the last hours of his life. If anything, a self-inflicted bullet to the head was too good for him. The slow burn of the torched cabin was but a preview of what he would face when his final breath had escaped his lifeless body – and that anguish should have lasted far longer. But that’s just me.

Having said that, I now offer this:

What will we learn from this nightmare? What will we do with this experience? What can be done to prevent something like this from happening again? As sure as I am sitting here writing to you, this horror will happen again if some very important changes are not made – not just at the LAPD, but wherever you are.

The manifesto posted by Dorner on Facebook failed in its attempt to justify his actions. However, it cast some very serious aspersions on the Los Angeles Police Department; allegations of racism, abuse, violence, silence, and corruption at all levels.

While many have intuitively written the accusations off as the incoherent and unsubstantiated ramblings fabricated in the twisted mind of a killer, I think doing so is a mistake. In fact, I will go so far as to say that much of what is asserted in the so-called manifesto is probably more truth than fiction.

Whether there is pervasive racism, rampant abuse and violence, and whether there is a code-of-silence and varying degrees of corruption within the LAPD are things we can find out if only someone – neutral – would look. If such things exist, to any degree, then fixing them can only improve the image, morale, and performance of the department; it can only make the citizens and officers safer.

Nevertheless, whether Christopher Dorner was actually fired because he ratted on another officer, we will never know for sure. I defend police officers and firefighters in such departmental actions and, quite frankly, such a scenario or something similar would not surprise me – I have seen it with my own eyes and I have successfully defended against it in other departments.

In fact, looking back I am personally aware of multiple occasions where favoritism and personality conflicts have resulted in the manufacturing of grounds for and the ultimate termination of otherwise decent employees.

I am presently representing a fire captain who – after an outright inept investigation, which failed to conclusively prove that he was involved in any wrongdoing – was fired by a Chief who seems to have just wanted him gone. Never mind that he was described in the final report as being “…one of, if not THE best ground firefighting Captain in the department.”

Nevertheless, he was fired based on obviously fabricated and utterly incongruent evidence. Although that fight goes on – in court where such a fight belongs – he has lost his livelihood, lost his career, lost the respect of the community, and lost the “name” he spent his entire life creating. Sound familiar?

He is not my only such client. In fact, he’s not my only such client in that particular Central-California department.

Then there are the individuals who suffer even more insanity in the private EMS sector. Private ambulance employees are like the naked prey dependent upon limited mercy, good luck, self-preservation, and a nauseating degree of sycophantic skullduggery just to stay employed.

All of that brings me to this:

When are simpleton supervisors, autocratic administrators, and pugnacious politicos going to consider how what they do affects others beyond the job, beyond the station, beyond the council chambers, and beyond the office of the human resources witch whose heartlessness is rivaled only by her brainlessness?

I think the saddest part of the Dorner nightmare (murders aside) is that it brings to light a serious, serious problem that exists across all manner and sector of employment and it seems we will learn nothing from it because the messenger was a crazed killer. It’s ironic that the sound of the gunfire silenced his message.

Well, if you have read this far, I hope you will read a little farther because I have a few simple solutions:

1)      If you are a supervisor, focus more attention on doing what’s right than on doing what’s popular. Business is business and right is right.

2)      If you are an investigator or an administrator, remember that the “truth” is not what you think it is or what you want it to be; the “truth” is all you can possibly have left when every other explanation does not fit.

3)      If you are the ultimate decision-maker, just be as sure of the righteousness of your decisions as you would be if the subject employee was your only child. Remember, King Solomon only suggested the splitting of the baby to get to the truth. Solomon knew that, if he actually split the baby, all he would have is a dead baby and no lesson learned.

For most of us, the Christopher Dorner nightmare is behind us. For the families and friends of those who lost their lives to the rampage, I pray that you find the peace and strength to carry on and continue to share the goodness of those who were lost.

For everyone, let’s carry the lessons with us and let’s never forget that the most we can do in this life is the best we can; the most we can do is to simply do what is right.


  1. don
    February 17, 2013

    I was in the same boat , you point out things and “they” turn on you. I retiered in 2006 from the FD and saw things and how they treat people that speak out

  2. Bill Hurley
    February 17, 2013

    Very well written and to the point. I must say that I agree 100 percent and I also must say that I was a supervisor in my Police department and I am now retired after 25 years of putting up with a lot of the crap that is stated here.
    Bill Hurley


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