Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, miners would bring canaries with them into coal mines to warn them about the presence of dangerous gasses. The small birds and their tiny respiratory systems were more sensitive to methane and carbon monoxide fumes than those of humans and so when the canaries would die, the miners knew that something was seriously wrong -- hence the expression "like a canary in a coal mine." Christopher Dorner is one such canary.
One well-armed and purportedly well-trained man was able to wreak havoc on Southern California for seven days. There were thousands of officers involved in the manhunt for Dorner -- imagine the consequences if 10 or 100 well-armed and well-trained men decided to do the same thing? For the officials who appear poorly prepared for the very real threat of domestic terrorism, this is their canary.
During the hunt for Dorner three innocent people who did not resemble the suspect even slightly (two of which were women, one of whom was a white male) were fired upon.
The officers who opened fire on the two innocent women (who were delivering newspapers at the time) unloaded over 25 rounds into their truck. Thankfully the officers were as incompetent at aiming their weapons as they were in discriminating valid targets and both women survived.
The third innocent victim, on his way to the beach to go surfing, was rammed by a police cruiser at high speed. The officers leaped out and began firing at the vehicle. His pickup truck purportedly "resembled" Dorner's. Again, thankfully both officers were just incompetent enough to fail to injure him.
Had these three innocent people been killed, the LAPD would have been responsible for nearly as many deaths as the suspect they were chasing. In both cases the police did not identify themselves and did not ask the vehicles to stop or issue any warnings, they simply opened fire.
The only other police forces with which I'm familiar that behave in this fashion work in the third world and are typically called "death squads" as opposed of officers of the law. This kind of reckless endangerment of ordinary citizens, the folks who are ultimately the police's employers and those they are hired to protect, is unacceptable.
Dorner is not a martyr or hero; he is a murderer of innocent people. The allegations contained in Dorner's manifesto however, merit serious investigation if for no other reason than to repair of the LAPD's reputation.
They are not "ramblings on the internet" as Chief Charlie Beck of the LAPD inaccurately characterized them, but detailed descriptions of events with dates, times and names. A quick and incomplete synopsis of Dorner's allegations are:
• That he (Dorner) was fired from the LAPD for refusing to cover up police abuse of a mentally disabled man (testimony from the disabled man's father supports Dorner's claim that the man was kicked in the chest and face).
• That pictures of recently deceased bodies are taken by officers with cellphones and a game played to see who has the most graphic images of dead people.
• That officers looked forward to 187 calls (murder) so as to accrue the overtime pay and would see dead victims as "ATV's", "Waverunners","RV's" and "new clothes for their kids."
• That Police recruits were singing Nazi songs celebrating the burning of Jews.
• That officers involved in the Rodney King or Rampart scandals have been promoted or are still employed with the LAPD.
All of the court documents are available here.
Regardless of whether or not they are true, these claims have resonated with the public -- Dorner's Facebook group has over 14,000 likes and was founded only seven days ago.
The extent to which his claims have found currency with ordinary people should be extremely troubling to the LAPD. Dorner is dead and gone but he is a warning of far more serious problems that must be dealt with. We ignore this canary at our own peril.