Career woes, perceived racism fuel anger of ex-cop wanted in killing spree
Christopher Dorner sees himself as a crusader, a 6-foot, 270-pound whistleblower who confronted racism early in life and believes he suffered in his career and personal life for challenging injustices from bigotry to dishonesty.
He fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a Los Angeles police officer in 2005, but saw it unravel three years later when he was fired after a police review board decided he falsely accused his training officer of kicking a mentally ill man in the face and chest. The incident led Dorner to plot violent revenge against those he thought responsible for his downfall, according to a 14-page manifesto police believe he authored because there are details in it only he would know.
The manifesto reveals a man with varied and sometimes conflicting political views. His two favorite presidents are Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, in that order; and heÂ says he wants either Hillary Clinton or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for president in 2016. He also laments the fact that he "won't be around to view and enjoy 'The Hangover III.' What an awesome trilogy."
Police said Dorner began carrying out that plot last weekend when he killed a woman whose father had represented him as he fought to keep his job. On Thursday the eighth anniversary of his first day on the job with the LAPD Dorner ambushed two officers, killing one, authorities said.
Also killed was the woman's fiance, whose body was found along with hers in a parked car near the recently engaged couple's condominium.
"I know most of you who personally know me are in disbelief to hear from media reports that I am suspected of committing such horrendous murders and have taken drastic and shocking actions in the last couple of days," the manifesto reads. "You are saying to yourself that this is completely out of character of the man you knew who always wore a smile wherever he was seen."
David Pighin, a neighbor of Dorner in the Orange County community of La Palma, said the ex-officer kept to himself and left his house and his black Nissan Titan, outfitted with tinted windows and custom rims, impeccably clean.
"There wasn't a scratch on it," Pighin said. "I would see him getting out of his truck and walk straight into the house."
The pickup, which had been torched, was found Thursday in mountains east of Los Angeles.
Dorner has no children and court records show his wife filed for divorce in 2007, though there's no evidence one was granted. Pighin believed Dorner lived with his mother and possibly his sister. On Wednesday night, Pighin saw a white van with two armed SWAT officers in front of Dorner's house and later learned about the manhunt.
"We were completely shocked," he said. "This is a good family that appeared to be really nice people. They were really admired in the neighborhood."
Dorner, 33, graduated in 2001 from Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, school officials said, where he majored in political science and had an unremarkable career as a reserve running back on the football team.
A friend from those days, Jamie Usera, told the Los Angeles Times that he saw no red flags. The two would have friendly debates about the extent of racism in the U.S. and take trips into the Utah desert to hunt rabbits, Usera told the newspaper.
"He was a typical guy. I liked him an awful lot," said Usera, who's now an attorney in Salem, Ore. "Nothing about him struck me as violent or irrational in any way. He was opinionated, but always seemed level-headed."
In addition to police work, Dorner served in the Naval Reserves, earning a rifle marksman ribbon and pistol expert medal. He served in a naval undersea warfare unit and various aviation training units, according to military records, and took a leave from the LAPD and deployed to Bahrain in 2006 and 2007.
In 2002, as a Navy ensign in Enid, Okla., Dorner and another man found a bank bag in the street holding nearly $8,000 and turned it over to authorities, who returned it to a church, the Eagle News and Eagle reported.
"I didn't work for it, so it's not mine," he said at the time. "And, it was for the church. It's not so much the integrity, but it was someone else's money. I would hope someone would do that for me."
Dorner's last day with the Navy was last Friday.
In response to threats in the manifesto, police were providing more than 40 protection details for people they determined at high risk after Dorner warned that their families would be harmed.
"I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own. I'm terminating yours," the manifesto says.
"I will utilize every bit of small arms training, demolition, ordinance and survival training I've been given," it reads. "You have misjudged a sleeping giant."
In the document, Dorner rails against the hypocrisy of black police commanders who crack down on their white subordinates and catalogues his experiences with racism and injustice, beginning with a schoolyard fight at his Christian elementary school and ending with the disciplinary process that led to his dismissal from the LAPD in 2008.
Dorner recalls that he beat up a fellow student who called him a racial slur on the playground while in the first grade. The principal punished the student, but also chastised Dorner for not turning the other cheek, "as Jesus did."
"That day I made a life decisions that I will not tolerate racial derogatory terms spoken to me," he wrote.
He also recalls sticking up for a fellow cadet in the police academy when other recruits sang Hitler youth songs and taunted the man, who was the son of a Holocaust survivor, and placing another recruit in a choke hold after the man used a racial slur and refused to stop when Dorner objected.
In the latter instance, Dorner filed a complaint against two of his fellow recruits, but only one of the men was disciplined and it left him bitter, according to court records. He would later tell a colleague the LAPD was corroded by the racism of some of its officers.
Dorner graduated and served for only four months in the field before being deployed to the Middle East in 2006 and 2007. When he returned, he was assigned to a training officer, Sgt. Teresa Evans, who became increasingly alarmed at his conduct, according a summary of an interview with Evans in Dorner's disciplinary file.
The burly man with tattoos on his biceps repeatedly asked why he was not sent to reintegration training after his return from war and on one occasion, began weeping in the patrol car and demanded to be taken back to the police academy to be retrained, court documents show.
Dorner also told Evans he was building a house in Las Vegas and intended to sue the department after his probationary period was over a conversation Evans reported to a superior.
Evans began collecting examples of "deficiencies" in Dorner's police work including talking to a suspect on a "man with a gun" call without taking cover. After much prodding, Evans recounts, Dorner told her he "might have some issues regarding his deployment."
On Aug. 4, 2007, Evans warned Dorner that she would give him an unsatisfactory rating and request that he be removed from the field unless he improved.
Six days later, Dorner reported to internal affairs that in the course of an arrest Evans had kicked a severely mentally ill man in the chest and left cheek. His report came two weeks after the arrest, police and court records allege.
Three civilian witnesses and a harbor policeman all said they didn't see Evans kick the man, who had a quarter-inch scratch on his cheek consistent with his fall into a bush. The police review board ruled against Dorner, leading to his dismissal.
"The delay in reporting the alleged misconduct, coupled with the witnesses' statements, irreparably destroy Dorner's credibility and bring into question his suitability for continued employment as a police officer," the file reads.
Evans could not be reached for comment. Eric Rose, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the officers' union, declined to comment on the case or on Dorner.
As a result, he lost everything, including his relationships with his mother, sister and close friends, he wrote in his manifesto.
"Self-preservation is no longer important to me. I do not fear death as I died long ago," he writes. "I was told by my mother that sometimes bad things happen to good people. I refuse to accept that."
Associated Press Writers Julie Watson in San Diego, Greg Risling, Linda Deutsch and Tami Abdollah in Los Angeles and researchers Rhonda Shafner and Susan James in New York contributed to this report.
Hunt for ex-cop goes on amid snowstorm
Southern California authorities hunting a triple-murder suspect plan to search through the weekend in snow-covered mountains where the former Los Angeles police officer torched and abandoned his pickup truck.
As of noon Friday there has been no sign of Christopher Dorner, but San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon says searchers will press on unless there's evidence Dorner has left the Big Bear Lake area.
Deputies have searched many residences and are now focusing on 200 vacant cabins in the surrounding forest.
Mayor Jay Obernolte says there's been no panic. He says ski areas are open because there's no substantial threat to the resorts. Ex says Dorner was disturbed, self-obsessed
Court documents show an ex-girlfriend of a former Los Angeles police officer suspected of three murders called him "severely emotionally and mentally disturbed" after the two split in 2006.
Documents obtained by The Associated Press on Friday show ex-officer Christopher Dorner unsuccessfully requested a restraining order against his ex-girlfriend after she posted his badge number on a website called Dontdatehimgirl.com.
In the posting, Ariana Williams calls Dorner "twisted" and "super paranoid" and warns other women on the website not to date him.
Williams' attorney didn't return a call or email. Key events in hunt for Christopher Dorner
Key events involving Christopher Dorner, the fired Los Angeles police officer suspected of killing at least three people, including a police officer in Southern California, and posting a manifesto on Facebook outlining plans to kill the families of those he felt wronged him:
Sunday, Feb. 3: Monica Quan, 28, and Keith Lawrence, 27, are found shot to death in their car at an Irvine, Calif., parking structure. Quan, an assistant women's basketball coach at California State University, Fullerton, was the daughter of a former Los Angeles police captain who represented Dorner in disciplinary hearings that resulted in his dismissal.
Monday, Feb. 4, about 9:30 a.m. PST: Some of Dorner's belongings, including police equipment, are found in a trash bin in the San Diego-area community of National City.
Monday, Feb. 4 through Wednesday, Feb. 6: Police find a scrap of paper that mentions names associated with the LAPD. LAPD is contacted, and when they see a connection to Randal Quan, who lost his daughter the day prior, Irvine Police Department is called. Authorities find Dorner's manifesto online.
Wednesday, Feb. 6: Irvine police say they are looking for Dorner as a suspect in the killings of Quan and Lawrence, and that he implicated himself in the killings in the manifesto posted on Facebook. U.S. marshals and other law enforcement officials, acting on a credible lead, search Wednesday night for Dorner in San Diego's Point Loma area.
Wednesday, Feb. 6, 10:30 p.m.: A man matching Dorner's description tries to steal a 47-foot boat from a San Diego marina, but the engine won't start. An 81-year-old man on the boat is tied up but unhurt.
Thursday, Feb. 7, 1:30 a.m.: In the Riverside County community of Corona, Calif., two LAPD officers assigned to protect a person named in the manifesto chase a vehicle they believe is Dorner's. One officer is grazed in the forehead during a shootout, and the gunman flees. A short time later, a gunman believed to be Dorner ambushes two Riverside police officers who had stopped at a red light during a routine patrol. One officer is killed, and the other critically injured.
Thursday, Feb. 7, 2:18 a.m.: A shuttle bus driver turns in a wallet with an LAPD badge and a picture ID of Dorner to San Diego police. The wallet is found less than five miles from the boat, near San Diego International Airport.
Thursday, Feb. 7, 5:15 a.m.: LAPD officers guarding a manifesto target in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance open fire on a truck they mistakenly believe to be Dorner's. Two women are wounded. A short time later, Torrance police are involved in a second shooting involving a different truck they also mistake for Dorner's. Nobody is hurt.
Thursday, Feb. 7, 8:30 a.m.: Reports surface that authorities are investigating a burned pickup truck near the Big Bear ski area in the San Bernardino Mountains. A San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy says there have been no sightings of Dorner, but local school officials decide to put campuses in lockdown.
Thursday, Feb. 7, 9:30 a.m.: Authorities in central and northern Arizona are alerted about the manhunt for Dorner along with a description of a vehicle he may be driving.
Thursday, Feb. 7, 9:40 a.m.: Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego is locked down after a Navy worker reports seeing someone who resembles Dorner. Two hours later, Navy officials say they don't believe Dorner was on base.
Thursday, Feb. 7, 2:30 p.m.: Authorities confirm the pickup truck found near Bear Mountain ski area at Big Bear Lake belongs to Dorner.
Thursday, Feb. 7, 3:30 p.m.: San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon announces a door-to-door search for Dorner is under way.
Thursday, Feb. 7, 4 p.m.: FBI SWAT teams and local police serve a search warrant at a Las Vegas-area home belonging to Dorner. Authorities leave with boxes of items from the two-story house but decline to disclose what has been found.