Chris Dorner

At the time of this writing — after 1:30AM — I’m not exactly sure what happened to Chris Dorner, who is or was the ex-LAPD officer who murdered the daughter of a LAPD police union rep and her fiancé, then eluded police for over a week.

Last night, from a cabin in Big Bear, California, he allegedly killed a police offer and wounded two more before he either set the cabin fire or the police bombed it. Multiple “reliable” news outlets reported he was dead, some even referring to his “charred body,” but then the LAPD invited over-eager reporters to have several seats by announcing they have not yet found a body — any body’s body, much less Dorner’s. In fact, they haven’t even been in the cabin because it’s still too damn hot. Dorner might be on the run, or might be dead. Your guess is as good as any reporter’s.

Wild misinformation during breaking news stories has become a common place. Yesterday, some broadcast journalists played the equivalent of “Eenie meenie miney mo” to guess whether Donner was still with us or had gone to the Great Beyond. Two months ago, TV reporters mis-indentified the shooter in the Sandy Hook school killing, naming his brother instead and even flashing his picture on the news. In a rush to be “first,” some journalists are acting irresponsibly, and losing credibility.

Other journalists are filling broadcasts with bad experts or pointless discussions. Last night, CBS was so desperate to avoid dead air they didn’t even bother to check to if a man claiming to be a member of the Big Bear State Fish and Game Department was actually a real source. He was actually a Howard Stern fan who claimed to be “Ronnie the Limo Driver,”  who was “on his way to a block party” when he fired his gun at Dorner. When the reporter continued the interview after that outlandish statement, even the hoaxer was fed up. “You’re a real dumb ass” he told the reporter. “You still don’t know this is a prank?!”

I tuned into this real-life drama playing out like a made-for-TV movie sometime around 6PM. Dorner was allegedly in the cabin and surrounded by cops, but there hadn’t been any more to report in a while. All the commentators and experts were having lengthy discussions about whether Dorner should surrender to police, as if a former cop who allegedly had just killed one and injured a few more was actually going to turn himself over. Had any of them even bothered to read Dorner’s manifesto detailing how he was specifically screwed over by the LAPD, which he also found to be corrupt in general?

And it’s not like the LAPD would actually take Dorner into custody. Days earlier, two Hispanic women — one a 71-year-old — were shot by the LAPD as they rode in a truck that resembled the one Dorner was last seen driving. So like I said, there was no way in hell he was going into police custody. The options were A) suicide; B) a literal blaze of glory; or C) going out like “Cleo” at the end of Set It Off. But their reporters sat rambling on like there was a probable “D” choice, if indeed Dorner was even in that house.

As commentators and “experts” kept yapping, I wondered if I — you know as a Black member of the general public — was even the intended for the audience for these broadcasts. The experts and the reporters on CNN and MSNBC were talking about how Dorner should surrender so the LAPD would no longer be terrorized, and how sad it was that the LAPD was being targeted and living in fear. And all I could think was, “Well, now they know how Black and Brown  people in LA feel!”

Don’t get me wrong, I want Dorner caught, but it’s because he killed that poor girl and her fiance’. And because round-faced, caramel-colored Black men (that means you, LL) — and apparently, Hispanic grannys — ain’t safe on the streets until Dorner’s dead. The last thing on my mind was the pain and suffering of the LAPD. I came of age listening to NWA’s “Fuck da Police” and watching the grainy footage of the Rodney King beating. What the dominant culture calls the LA “riots,” I refer to as an uprising. Frankly, I’m real “meh” on the LAPD and its “chickens coming home to roost” Moment.

And I wish I’d caught the expert’s name on CNN who referred to the part of Dorner’s manifesto when he choked out a fellow white officer who was dropping n-bombs left and right. When confronted by Dorner, the officer told him, “I’ll say it when I want.” Oh, word? The expert said it was evidence of that Dorner was “unstable,” and I thought “oh, he must be talking to the dominant culture”  because Black folk might think that’s out of order, but not nowhere does it hold water as evidence of being crazy.

But maybe I am for relying on the news to get a story right or represent my point of view.

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk

39 Comments

  1. I’d rather get my news from twitter its a bit more accurate than these racist news channels! So sad!

  2. Anthony

    I had to laugh when I heard on NPR that the San Bernadino police said the fire was unintentional even though they admitted shooting incendiary tear gas canisters at the cabin. This is so much like Symbionese Liberation Army shoot out back the Seventies, it’s not even funny.

  3. I’m so tired of people painting the “media” as some big, floating monster.

    It’s true that news media has been a medium to distort truths and being extremely biased.

    However,

    As far as reporters are concerned, the way it works is when a reporter gets the information, you get information. Meaning whatever their source (police, official, witness) provides is what they put out to inform the masses. Sometimes that’s not the full truth(especially with up to the minute coverage). Our news in the U.S. is so based on what brings in ratings and regulated by the gov’t (FCC/FTC) that the “real” story gets overlooked by executive producers and network presidents.

    *Think about it*
    The gov’t regulates what goes on air, police departments are government institutions, don’t want the boys in blue to look bad. Many radio and tv stations are regulated by the gov’t meaning that those stations would receive backlash for running certain stories about said institutions.

    Overall there are journalists out there who work outside of the status quo to inform the masses about the truth(most of which are silenced). Given the corruption within the LAPD the city is definitely going to try to paint Dorner as a crazed murderer(along with CNN commentators).

    The “media” just like many other professions are not black and white. There’s plenty more that meets the eye and that’s fed to the public.

    *Agree to disagree*

  4. Anthony

    I don’t want to make Christopher Dorner a hero, but I am sure there was merit to his claims. Police departments without the ugly history of the LAPD have problems with brutality and institutional racism, so it would make sense that there are still issues with LA law enforcement.

    I think that in today’s America, there is a danger in African Americans embracing Dorner. No matter how imperfect things are, we have made real political gains. Our enemies would love nothing more than to portray us as eagerly supporting a cop killer to alienate us from those who might coalesce with us on various political issues of interest.
    We need to acknowledge that Dorner had a point about institutional racism and corruption in law enforcement, but we have to condemn his murders, and stress that he likely had serious undiagnosed mental illness.

    Finally, it has to be stressed how cowardly the police response to Dorner was. They were literally shooting up any pickup that looked like Dorner’s Toyota. The shooting of the women delivering papers was craven.
    It was clear that the police were horrified at the idea of someone who had the skill level to inflict serious damage on them. In all of my years of following the news, I have never heard of a suspect winning multiple shoot outs with the police. I also agree with others who said that the police were not interested in seeing Christopher Dorner live to testify in a courtroom.

  5. I don’t believe Dorner was “mentally ill.” I believe his reaction to his being fired was one that was not inevitable. Dorner was pushed to his limit, which is clear when you read his manifesto. How many times did he mention going to some board to testify against the evils plaguing the LAPD? Each and every time, he was denied and made to look bad.

    All of this made him snap.

    Dorner was a good man who made a very bad decision, but he was by no means a bad man or a mentally ill man. You don’t have to be crazy to kill people, you just need to have a reason.

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