Police Cracking Under the Pressure of Manhunt?

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police_tapeA friend of my wife’s last night posted on Facebook that he (an African-American and an elected official down in Southern California) were spending time on their boat at the marina in Long Beach on Sunday.

He said he was watching the Laker’s game when he heard a helicopter hovering overhead.  When he went out, he immediately saw Coast Guard boats and numerous police on the dock facing his boat and up on the street.

He suddenly realized that they were all facing his boat.  He was told to come out and put his hands on his head and get on his knees.

“Soon, there were guns trained on me everywhere I looked,” he said. “There were guns pointed at the boat where my daughter was…frightened to death.”

He continued, “I then spent the next 10-15 minutes answering questions staring down the barrel of a shot gun.”

Later he posted, “My daughter, as you might imagine, was traumatized considerably. A 13-year-old should not have to try and process what she witnessed today. I know I will have trouble sleeping tonight as well.”

The police were looking for ex-police officer Christopher Jordan Dorner.

This comes on the heels of a story reported in the LA Times and on the local news where two women, 71 and 47 years of age, were delivering newspapers in Torrance early on Thursday morning when the LAPD officers riddled their blue Toyoa with bullets.

One woman was shot twice in the back while the other received minor injuries from the broken glass.  The injuries are non-life threatening.

“Officers had mistakenly thought the truck they were driving belonged to Dorner,” KTLA in Los Angeles reported.

Police Chief Charlie Beck called the incident “a tragic misinterpretation” by officers working under “incredible tension.”

KTLA reports, “The two women now say they had no warning before they were caught in a hail of bullets by officers, and it is remarkable that they survived.  One neighbor in the area told the Los Angeles Times she believes she heard roughly 60 rounds fired at the women.”

The women have subsequently retained an attorney, Glen T. Jonas.

“The police have a job to do,” Ms. Jonas said.  “But that job does not include street justice.  It does not include execution.”

“Obviously, everyone is uptight, and you’ve got to be sensitive to that.  But you’ve got to be professional, and match your description, and give fair warning before you start shooting at people.”

A total of seven officers fired on the truck.  The LAPD is said to be getting the women a new truck.

These are scary stories.  There is no doubt that what the police chief said is true – the officers were working under “incredible tension.”  But what seems to be happening is that under stress the police are reverting to their worst and base instincts.

Perhaps we need to start re-thinking police response when the victim is one of their own.  No one can doubt that police perform an extremely dangerous job, and more so in Los Angeles and other big cities than in smaller towns like Davis.

But that stress and danger produces camaraderie, a brotherhood.  It serves to protect police but also serves to make them protective of the comrades.

In other professions, however, having a personal stake in an outcome, produces a conflict of interest.  That conflict of interest lowers the objectivity of the officers.  It heightens aggressive instincts.

All of this acts to lower the collective judgment of those with a personal stake in the matter.  Clearly, the system right now is insufficient and the manpower is adequate to be able to assemble a large group of law enforcement officers that can perform their search with a more distant and reasoned perspective.

The result is that, while the police are trying to protect the public from danger, they are at the same time putting the public at greater risk.

Which Side is Lying to the Public

In the meantime, the LA Times has a fresh report on the incident that triggered the shooting.

They report that the LAPD disciplinary panel concluded evidence was persuasive that Officer Dorner “lied when he accused his training officer of kicking a mentally ill man during an arrest.”

However, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge came to a different conclusion, stating it was “uncertain whether the training officer kicked the suspect or not.”  Nevertheless, he made the decision to uphold the department’s decision to fire Mr. Dorner.

The Times reports, “An online manifesto that police attributed to Dorner claims he was railroaded by the LAPD and unjustly fired. His allegations have resonated among the public and some LAPD employees who have criticized the department’s disciplinary system, calling it capricious and retaliatory toward those who try to expose misconduct.”

Police Chief Beck this weekend announced that he is reopening the investigation into Mr. Dorner’s disciplinary case.

“It is important to me that we have a department that is seen as valuing fairness,” Chief Beck said.

“LAPD records show that Dorner’s disciplinary panel heard from several witnesses who testified that they did not see the training officer kick the man. The panel found that the man did not have injuries consistent with having been kicked, nor was there evidence of having been kicked on his clothes,” the Times reports.

The Times writes, “An internal affairs investigation into the allegation concluded the kicks never occurred. Investigators subsequently decided that Dorner had fabricated his account. He was charged with making false accusations.”

The Times continues, “Dorner did not immediately report the kicks to a sergeant, he said, because he was asked only what force he had used, not what his partner had done. And as a rookie who had already filed complaints against fellow officers, he feared retaliation from within the department, Dorner testified.”

What is described here is referred to as the blue code of silence which is an unwritten rule among police officers that they are to not report misconduct committed by the fellow officers.  If questioned about such an incident of misconduct involving an officer, the officer being questioned is to claim ignorance of another officer’s wrongdoing.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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11 thoughts on “Police Cracking Under the Pressure of Manhunt?”

  1. AdRemmer

    “But what seems to be happening is under stress the police are reverting to their worst and base instincts.”

    DMG…when will you be able to substantiate or support with facts such a statement…

    When,if ever, did you prove police acted in such a manner, when did they stop and when did they ‘revert’ back, again?

    Won’t be holding breath…

  2. Sanity Defense

    I would appreciate it, given what you wrote above and over the past week or so, if you would just skip the platitudes about how you’re sure most cops are decent individuals. Because before you’ve finished swallowing the spit it takes to say it, you turn around and accuse all cops of perjury, abuse of power and authority. At least it would be more honest if you didn’t try to pad your paranoid-worthy prejudice against police officers with platitudes apparently meant to make you and the Vanguard seem balanced.

    Given your view, expressed ad nauseum, of cops’ honesty and integrity. that they are unethical ruthless cheating liars who spend all of their time making up stories to slant “the truth” toward what helps them the most, I suppose it makes sense because that is and always has been my view of you and the Vanguard.

    Why would you expect others to be any more fair and ethical than you are? You have devoted years of electronic “ink” to slanting facts (and often the information doesn’t rise anywhere near to the level of a fact) to fit your purpose, a purpose that has nothing to do with fairness or the truth.

    As a result, you will never be anything more than a blogger. You can dress up the Vanguard any way you like, but as like as it’s all about your agenda, a blog it will always be.

  3. David M. Greenwald

    “I would appreciate it, given what you wrote above and over the past week or so, if you would just skip the platitudes about how you’re sure most cops are decent individuals. “

    I do think most cops are decent individuals, but humans make mistakes. In places, we conflict out people who are likely to have a conflict of interests, but not in this situation. I fail to see how you view this as anything but a criticism of the system rather than a group of individual police.

  4. David M. Greenwald

    “DMG…when will you be able to substantiate or support with facts such a statement… “

    I fail to understand your point, you think it was appropriate for the police to light up the truck driven by the newspaper delivery people?

  5. rusty49

    Hey give David a break, for a change he didn’t make it all about racism which I was sure this article was headed after reading the first few paragraphs. Kudos for that.

  6. jimt

    I am generally supportive of the police; but the shooting up of 2 trucks of civilians (I heard there were two such incidents, not just one) is way way out of line. You should not be in danger of being shot up by panicked yahoo cops (I’m talking about only the cops in these reckless shooting incidents; and not the majority of competent police) just because you are driving a pickup truck. The law-abiding public should not be in as much danger from reckless cops as they are from Dorner. Seems to me these incidents should be investigated by independent agencies into possible criminally reckless conduct by these officers. Certainly a civil lawsuit would seem to be appropriate here.

    Ironically, these shoot-ups of pickup trucks (which nearly resulted in murders of innocent civilians) by LA police would seem to make Dorners allegations of internal misconduct by the police more credible. The primary mission of the police is protection of the public; not protection of themselves at the expense of everybody around them.

    I would be interested in the views of current or former police on these pickup-truck shooting incidents.

  7. Siegel

    I agree with Jimt and David here. I don’t understand the comments by the first two posters, I don’t see anywhere where David puts down all officers.

    “Perhaps we need to start re-thinking police response when the victim is one of their own. “

    Exactly, we should, because some police officer, not all, not most, but some cannot control their emotions. And frankly, I don’t even blame them for that. They are human. The job of government though is to protect us all from such human reactions.

    If a Deputy DA is charged with wrongdoing, we don’t have the DA’s office prosecute. The AG’s office does. Why do we then have the police investigating the killing of one of their own?

  8. JustSaying

    rusty49, the first example might not be about racism, but it most definitely is about race. You might want to read the [i]LA Times[/i] regarding what police were dealing with at that moment:[quote]“Authorities said they believe Dorner attempted to steal a boat from an elderly man about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Point Loma Yacht Club in San Diego, hours before the shootings in Riverside County. The boat owner reported being accosted by a burly man who tied him up, threatened him with a gun and said he wanted the boat to flee to Mexico.”[/quote]David doesn’t level any criticism at the police actions with his friend, although it must have made for a harrowing ten minutes.

    Juxtaposing the boat incident with the van shooting (which then suggests that both support charges that police are “cracking under the pressure” and “putting the public at greater risk”) doesn’t seem appropriate–these are not equivalent in any way.

    Added to that is the report that the police chief who apparently hasn’t seen the case is ready to open it up for inspection:[quote] “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 the things we do….” [/quote]Little did the chief think that the first reaction from the Vanguard would be: [b]”Which Side is Lying to the Public”[/b] Isn’t it a little premature? Finally, we have the Vanguard’s conclusion essentially to justify Dorner’s rationale for lying, then changing his story: [quote]“What is described here is referred to as the blue code of silence which is an unwritten rule among police officers that they are to not report misconduct committed by the fellow officers. If questioned about such an incident of misconduct involving an officer, the officer being questioned is to claim ignorance of another officer’s wrongdoing.”[/quote]Let’s take a deep breath here. Time will provide us with answers for more reasoned speculation than we can undertake at this point.

  9. SouthofDavis

    Sanity Defense wrote:

    > I would appreciate it, given what you
    > wrote above and over the past week or
    > so, if you would just skip the platitudes
    > about how you’re sure most cops are decent
    > individuals.

    Then David wrote:

    > I do think most cops are decent individuals,
    > but humans make mistakes.

    I’ve been reading the Vanguard for a while and I agree with Sanity Defense that reading Davis’s platitudes about how great the cops are and how most cops are “decent individuals” feels like a white supremacist blog that points out the “some blacks are good people” or a Randian blog that goes out of its way to make sure we know all the people with EBT cards are not buying malt liquor and lap dances and that everyone on welfare it not a “moocher”. I bet David will feel a lot better if takes a moment and shares how he really feels about the police (and DAs office) based on his advocacy for victims and court watching I bet he feels the same way about most cops as Jeff feels about these people/moochers:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/oct/04/local/la-me-welfare-20101004

    P.S. If the cops that pumped 30+ rounds in to the Japanese pickup (that was vaguely familiar to the truck the guy they were looking for owned) injuring the two white women (who looked nothing like the black guy they were looking for) are not fired then we know the unions truly run the state and we are doomed…

  10. AdRemmer

    [quote]I fail to understand your point, you think it was appropriate for the police to light up the truck driven by the newspaper delivery people?[/quote]

    David,David,David I expect more from you despite your statist leanings!

    Address my point Libby!

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