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Conflict & Tragedy

Did police yell 'burn the house down' as they cornered fugitive ex-cop Dorner?

I could use a lot of adjectives to describe the tragedy that is ex-cop Christopher Dorner’s vigilante killings and the prolonged manhunt that followed in Los Angeles., but transparency wouldn’t be one of them. We still do not know many of the details.

The 33-year-old former LAPD cop turned alleged killer is now himself reportedly dead, burnt in a San Bernardino cabin Tuesday after police cornered him in the mountains. Dorner took a posse of law enforcement on a weeklong cat-and-mouse chase, after allegedly killing the daughter of a police officer, her fiancé, an LAPD officer and a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy. He also allegedly shot three others cops who survived. The shootings were reportedly revenge for being fired in 2009.

A massive manhunt ensued, which stretched all the way to the Mexican-California border as a $1 million bounty was placed on his head. More than 50 police officers and their families were put under 24-hour protection, fearing their former colleague was out to murder them.

Recent reports say a charred body, which is most likely Dorner, was found in the burned-out cabin, but no official identification has been made. An LAPD spokeswoman said Tuesday night that DNA tests could take days or even weeks. One other officer was reportedly killed in the shootout and another injured. Meanwhile, the above video shows the wooded area where Dorner had fled, after forcing a motorist to give up his car. He had also kidnapped two maids earlier and one had escaped to alert authorities.

Police officers are heard screaming angrily, and some of the conversation seems to include someone yelling “burn that f**king house down,” with another responding, “I don’t know.” The yelling man then reiterated his command of “burn it!” I could be hearing wrong, but did police deliberately burn the cabin down, killing two birds with one stone, as the saying goes? The announcer tried to cover her discomfort by saying the cops are understandably upset, but if they torched Dorner deliberately, aren’t they being vigilantes like he was?

Before his alleged shooting spree, Dorner had posted a manifesto on Facebook, which was later published by the Los Angeles Times. He targeted several officers for what he said was his unfair termination and also outlined rampant racism and abuse within the department. He claimed that his firing was punishment for reporting the abuse of a fellow officer, whom he said repeatedly stomped on a suspect’s face and chest. He also added that the LAPD was worse now than before Rodney King and that one of the officers who had taken part in that brutal beating of King had been promoted to sergeant.

Vigilantism never is a good idea, especially killing innocent family members of those who might have wronged him, but was this a tragedy waiting to happen? LAPD Chief Charlie Beck called Dorner “a trained assassin” and the killings “an act of terror” but at the same time was planning to review his termination. "I feel we need to publicly address Dorner's allegations regarding his termination," Beck said in a statement released Saturday, "...I do this not to appease a murderer. I do it to reassure the public that their police department is transparent and fair in all things we do."

With all the allegations of rampant corruption and racism in the LAPD, this will look like them silencing someone they didn't want to take to a trial where he might talk. What Dorner did was the wrong way to go; becoming a killer did not solve the problems to which he alluded. Like Democracynow.org wrote, he could have blown the lid off that department in explosive fashion if what he said is true. He could have become a whistle-blower, but then again power has a way of clamping down what it doesn't want known.

Interestingly, even if Dorner is said to have murdered four and injured three, he has many supporters, who have taken to social media like Twitter and Facebook to air their views. America seems to be seething with dangerous undercurrents of discontent, growing feelings of injustice and bias -- the stuff of which revolutions and anarchy are made.

Are the powers that be paying attention?