Thursday, February 7, 2013

Collateral Damage: Women Shot by Police in Manhunt for Cop on Rampage

In a twist to a story already past the 'strange' category, two women delivering newspapers early this morning were hit by gunfire from Los Angeles police who mistook their pickup for one owned by a deranged former Los Angeles police officer, Christopher Dorner.
Dorner is accused of shooting three police officers (one of whom has died) and killing a married couple related to another police official who he has targeted due to an apparent paranoid delusion.  He has left a rambling manifesto in which, interspersed with an enormous variety of 'flow of consciousness' rants, he has threatened "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" against anyone associated with the police, and their families.  (Despite his police background, the press can't help but talk about his military training in the Naval Reserve.  According to his record, he deployed overseas once, to Bahrain – the Paris of the Persian Gulf – and is rated as only a marksman – the lowest category – with what the press calls an 'assault rifle'.)

Christopher Dorner

Thus the manhunt …

Each of the women struck this morning were hit once, one in the hand and the other in the back, amidst a hail of at least 30 rounds fired at them in their vehicle, by a protective detail assigned to one of Dorner's proclaimed targets.  The vehicle was acting suspiciously in that it was driving slowly down the street in the suburban neighborhood with its lights out, much like … well, someone delivering newspapers. 

A second shooting shortly thereafter occurred nearby, by officers from the Torrance Police Department.  In that case, no one was listed as injured. 

In both cases, officers opened fire on vehicles that resembled the truck driven by Dorner. 

The first lesson to be learned by these separate but related shootings is that if you are driving a blue 2005 Nissan Titan, then for the time being pull over, park it and walk away. 

The second is to remember that if you are one of those people who only rely on a 911 call and the prompt arrival of police to protect you, consider the fact that police, no matter how well trained, are imperfect people.  Any large mass of people assembled for whatever purpose must contain within their ranks some noted aberrations, and that must include police.  (And yes, the military as well, as I know from a wide-ranging career with an enormous selection of otherwise dedicated and honorable professionals, along with a few in the eccentric category.) 

Dorner clearly is well off the scale in this regard.  But other police who will react as they did in the above situations must give us pause to consider just how these things can go down.  Ponder also how the notorious 'fog and friction of war' affect these sometimes split-second decisions. 

Remember also a recent instance in Manhattan, when two NYPD officers responded to a fatal shooting on the street in the business district during working hours.  They arrived on the scene quickly, saw the perpetrator walking into a building, followed him into the lobby and confronted him.  The perpetrator drew his weapon and they opened fire.  News reports were quick to report that nine bystanders were wounded in the exchange.  The embarrassing news that came out later was that the perpetrator didn't get off a shot – all of the bystanders were wounded by the multitude of stray shots from the police. 

I am a big fan of the police.  I work with law enforcement practically every day and the vast majority of them are great folks.  But always remember that you are ultimately responsible for your own protection, and act accordingly.

1 comment:

  1. We do need them, the cops, but these days they often seem more interested in their safety than in ours. Why else would they open fire on a truck that merely fit the description? This professionalism?

    I hope the women sue, even if they don't recover much, but that's easy for me to say. What lawyer would take a case that's liable to be lost because of sovereign immunity? The media always says, well, they survived. Yes, but, being wounded is no picnic and there's always some disability involved.

    I just laughed when I saw the media trying to make something out of a marksman badge. If he was in any way conservative (instead of the leftist his manifesto seems to imply) I'm sure we'd be hearing a lot more about his threat.


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