Christopher Dorner case spurs LAPD review backlash
Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck speaks at a press conference on the manhunt for Christopher Dorner, the fired LAPD officer believed responsible for the fatal shooting of a Riverside police officer, at a briefing at police headquarters February 7, 2013, in Los Angeles. / Getty Images
LOS ANGELES At least six fired police officers want their disciplinary cases reopened after the Los Angeles Police Department began reinvestigating the termination of a former officer who left a trail of violence to avenge his firing.
Police Protective League President Tyler Izen wouldn't provide details on the former officers who asked to have their cases revisited, but he said the decision by Chief Charlie Beck to reopen Christopher Dorner's case is unprecedented and "has left many of our members in absolute limbo."
"If the department does investigations and they're satisfied with those investigations, then what do they hope to learn from this review?" Izen said. "And if they are not satisfied with those investigations, why are they doing them without being satisfied in the first place?"
Beck reopened Dorner's case and ordered a review of the LAPD disciplinary system after the black ex-cop's online manifesto accused the department of racism and bias in his firing and vowed to get even with officers and their families.
Beck told KCBS in Los Angeles: "I think that Dorner's manifesto brings up a lot of issues. I don't think there are any inherent flaws to the system. I think the biggest flaws that are likely to occur are the application to the system. I need to make sure the system is applied correctly."
Manhunt for suspected LAPD cop killer
Dorner killed four people, including two police officers, in his rampage before he apparently committed suicide during a fiery shootout in a mountain cabin two weeks ago.
Beck has said the review is being conducted to ensure public confidence. The department has worked hard in recent years to overcome a bad image after multiple investigations into racism, corruption and abuse, including the Rampart Scandal and the 1991 beating of Rodney King.
The review of the allegations and overall disciplinary system will take months, Beck said at a Police Commission meeting on Tuesday. It will look at perceptions of fairness when dealing with race, gender and rank, and will involve input from officers and command staff.
Beck said the department will review other requests for review, but said many are old cases.
"I'll have somebody look at (the cases) ... have a 'biopsy' and make sure that they were done the way they should have been done. Many of these are very old. Many of the people that were involved in them are long gone. I never mind pulling a file and having someone look at it," Beck said. "No discipline system is perfect. Not mine, not the court system ... they are as good as you can make them to be."
Dorner's case brings up a significant issue about what to do when allegations of police misconduct are unfounded, said Commissioner Richard Drooyan. Dorner was dismissed for filing a false report alleging his training officer kicked a mentally disabled man.
"How do you make sure that you are punishing anyone who makes a false allegation or makes a false statement, while also at the same time not discouraging people from bringing potential misconduct to the attention of the department?" Drooyan asked.
Deputy Chief Bob Green, who oversees the South LA area, which is predominantly black and Latino, said the Dorner case has reopened "old wounds of trust" in the community.
About 100 people showed up at a community meeting last week and many spoke of negative experiences with police officers. Officers have reported disturbing public support for Dorner, including the message "Dorner lives" scrawled on walls.
- Dorner targets share their stories
- New details of Dorner's final hours
- Dorner backers rally in front of LAPD headquarters
About a dozen protesters at Tuesday's meeting demanded an independent review of Dorner's claims.
"We refuse to be able to continue to be duped that Bonnie can investigate Clyde," said David Dang, an organizer for Occupy The Hood Los Angeles.
The incident has also led officers to question whether they've been punished by an unfair system.
"What we're seeing is that a lot of folks (in the department) who have not been successful are looking for a rationale, now they go to the Dorner incident and say, `Why am I not getting promoted? Is there racism in the LAPD?"' Green said.
The union's legal team is reviewing requests to reopen cases, Izen said. Those could add up. In 2012, there were 48 Board of Rights hearings and 30 resulted in termination, according to Officer Bruce Borihanh.
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