Completing my series (and perhaps the chapter) on former Los Angeles Police Department officer Christopher Dorner comes this excellent article from my Facebook friend, Cleo Manago. Manago gives a neatly packaged chronology and biological breakdown of Mr. Dorner’s life, career and struggles while employed with the Los Angeles Police Department. After reading Manago’s article, I felt it to be the perfect and appropriate closure to my own recent articles on this blog about Mr. Dorner, whose death I – and the rest of world – learned yesterday (Tuesday, February 12, 2013), was confirmed by law-enforcement officials.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I’ve posted Manago’s article here. The answer is simple: Like the Dorner’s manifesto, which I’ve been campaigning readers to read, this article is probably the only one I’m ever to going to see where Dorner’s history is so neatly laid out. And at the risk of sounding redundant, if readers of this blog had read Dorner’s manifesto as I’ve urged, then the reasons for my decision would not only seem obvious, it would be appreciated!
Christopher Dorner was a brother-in-arms (as we in the military like to say), since he and I both served in the United States Navy. After having read Dorner’s manifesto last week, I had come to feel great empathy for the man and his cause – though I fully disagreed with his methods. I had a great concern for his safety, even though many had argued with me that Dorner himself showed no concern for the safety and lives of his victims. Again, I never said I condoned Dorner’s actions! I also had a concern and hope that Dorner would receive FAIR justice. Perhaps it is best that Dorner died when and how he did for truthfully, knowing how the American justice system works with regard to most Black men in this country. I had – and still have – my doubts that Dorner would have ever been treated safely and fairly or received fair justice.
Rest in peace, Christopher Dorner. While all of your troubles are over, I hope the reason for your desperate actions will bring to light the corruption and the wrongful practices and mistreatment of other good officers, not only those of color at the Los Angeles Police Department, but to good, honest police officers serving everywhere in America. If not, all the bloodshed would have been in vain and corruption will continue as before until another officer is driven to the brink of madness.
Now without further ado, here is the article, verbatim, by Cleo Manago!
Christopher Jordan Dorner: A Kindred Son
RIGHTEOUSNESS, REALITY, RAGE, & REVENGE –
by Cleo Manago
On Tuesday, February 12, 2013, when Mr. Christopher Jordan Dorner died, it felt to me like I lost a kindred son. The beginning of our lives was very parallel. I was also once a bright-eyed child, with a big heart, naively navigating through society, never prepared for the cruel reality of the racism I would experience. I too – as a small adolescent – was once trapped in the hostile and bewildering circumstance of being one of very few Blacks in school, and randomly called “Nigga” frequently by White students. I too was disciplined after being fed up with the mistreatment, resulting in my trying to beat the hell out of a few classmates when teachers would not stop them from calling me names. And, like Christopher Jordan Dorner, ultimately, I could see past all of this to determine that humanity just had a few bad apples, and I would commit my life to making the world a better place – somehow. Mr. Christopher Jordan Dorner, too, was a visionary of this kind, a decent and thoughtful human-being who wanted to help protect American citizens and make the country he [naively] loved, a better place. Mr. Dorner was born in 1979 in New York, and grew up in Los Angeles. As an innocent youth of African descent in the 80s, like many Black children, Dorner was not emotionally and mentally prepared to deal with being the only one at Norwalk Christian School. There, he would be violated by Shay White kids who frequently called him a “Nigga.” The trauma of this introduction to blatant racism was exacerbated when he was disciplined for defending himself against name-calling and harassment from other students.
In 1997, when he began college, interested in building a different world, Mr. Dorner majored in political science with a minor in psychology (I too had the same major and minor as an undergrad). Despite the lack of societal integrity he had experienced just for being Black, he stayed true to his own nature. In 2002, he found a bag containing nearly $8,000 in cash. He and a classmate turned it in to the police. When asked what his motive was, Mr. Dorner said “it’s an integrity thing.” Dorner added, “If people are willing to give that to a church, it must be pretty important to them.” Dorner said his mother taught him honesty and integrity. Interestingly, Dorner was not a Christian, or a believer in organized religion.
Throughout most of his short life, Mr. Christopher Jordan Dorner aimed to be a good upstanding American. His social network was inclusive and multi-racial, White folks included. But, the agony of racism was never far from the surface of his soul. In 2002, Mr. Dorner began a career in the Naval Reserve. In February 2013, shortly before his death, he would be dishonorably discharged. In 2005 he joined the Los Angeles Police Department (L.A.P.D.), excelling quickly, completing academy training in 2006. This decision would later put his intolerance for corruption and dishonesty to the test. His integrity would wind up being a marker in what would actually seal his doom. (When I worked in Law enforcement in Los Angeles, I was well aware of the racist brutality and abuse frequently served up by White cops, and self-hating Black cops with something to prove to the White cops. I joined their ranks to see for myself how they operated, with the intention to possibly influence change. I hit an institutionally racist wall of activity that went even beyond my worst nightmares, and wound up resigning under very similar circumstances to Mr. Dorner. But I was not there as long as he was.) Two years after joining the L.A.P.D., on September 4, 2008, Mr. Christopher Jordan Dorner would be terminated for filing a report concerning the conduct of fellow police officer, Officer Teresa Evans, for excessive force. Dorner accused Evans of kicking suspect Christopher Gettler in the face while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground. An internal review board concluded that Dorner had falsified his report, despite the corroborating statements of the kicking victim and his father. As far as Mr. Dorner was concerned, his attempt at fulfilling his nature as a decent human-being was again being dismissed in the face of injustice. Likely, Mr. Dorner likely deduced that this was based on his race, his having a code of ethics not had by the historically racist and corrupt L.A.P.D., and his unwillingness to stay inside the “Blue line.” (The Blue line is an agreement between police not to expose each other’s wrong behavior). For Mr. Dorner, this likely felt the same as the punishments he unjustly received when defending himself from unjust racism as child, trapped in a White, unfair and hostile environment. Dorner’s termination from the L.A.P.D. led to him posting on his Facebook page a demand for a public admission by the L.A.P.D. that his firing was in retaliation for reporting excessive force.
He was full of integrity and hope, not interested in harming a soul, while willing to put in check individuals he saw as a menace to society. He attempted to fulfill his vision of being a professional police officer for the Los Angeles Police department.
Mr. Christopher Jordan Dorner, whose career and reputation had been compromised by his decency, this finally became too much for him to bear. His lifelong investment in doing the right thing, and having honor was not only not valued; he had been terminated for being concerned about the mistreatment of a handcuffed man with special needs who he witnessed being brutalized by a fellow officer. Severely disillusioned, at his wit’s end, and figuring his life and name was unfairly destroyed, Mr. Dorner wrote a multi-page manifesto, vowing to “get even” if his name wasn’t cleared. Finally, assuming that the response to his demand would be the same as it was to his filing the excessive force report on fellow police officer Teresa Evans, feeling persecuted for his nature, he began to exact revenge on police officers and their families, as listed in his manifesto. Mr. Dorner’s now frantic outrage resulted in a few innocent people dying from his gun (which I regret). Yet, what pushed him to the edge was that he was justified disenchantment, and a broken heart resulting from that he came from a country, career and community (Generally, Black children are not educated or prepared to deal with racism, attempts are made to assimilate instead), that deceived him.
During his rampage, allegedly, Mr. Dorner killed the daughter of former police captain Randy Quant, as well as her fiancée, and two police officers, one during a gunfight at the snow-covered San Bernardino mountain cabin where he would later die.
On February 12, 2013, while in Big Bear Lake, California, a predominantly White mountain community, Mr. Dorner tied up a middle-aged couple who had discovered him in a cabin located in the 1200 block of Club View Drive. It was snowing. He then left there in a stolen vehicle. The wife managed to get free and alerted the police. Soon after, now running on foot, Mr. Dorner would be cornered by San Bernardino County deputies in another empty cabin, where he attempted to take refuge. During a standoff of just a few hours, Mr. Dorner attempted to run out the back door, but was forced back in by gunshots. To finish him, deputies commenced to burning down the cabin with Dorner in it. Audio tape from the event recorded banter between deputies, only played once on CNN, which clearly has them saying, “Burn the Motherfucker Down.” Yet, at a press conference that followed, deputies would deny purposely burning down the cabin. They did purposely burn down the cabin! This public denial re-surfaces the corruption that helped lead to Mr. Dorner’s indignation.
On February 14, 2013, based on dental records during autopsy, it was announced that the body discovered in the cabin was indeed Mr. Dorner’s. On February 9, 2013, the L.A.P.D. had announced that it would reopen the disciplinary proceedings that led to Dorner’s firing. Which means nothing will be done in response to Dorner’s exposure of severe racism within the L.A.P.D. A number of Black men, including me, had previously prepared manifestos describing the brutal racism in L.A.’s “Law enforcement.” Ex L.A.P.D. cop, Brian Bentley has even written a book, documenting his harrowing racist experiences at L.A.P.D. But nothing changed. Not because it can’t. Black people must care about themselves and focus enough to demand change. Black people must realize that a rush to assimilation and upper-mobility is not the equivalent of exacting justice, liberation or human equity. And, Black guardians must educate their children about racism. Going to church, getting a so-called education and a job is not enough!
Mr. Christopher Jordan Dorner died at the age of 33, likely from a self-inflicted wound after the cabin was set on fire by vengeful deputies. Mr. Christopher Jordan Dorner was their worst nightmare, and had to be killed. He was an expertly trained marksman, who had excelled at his craft to implement “law enforcement” with lethal capacity. He had vowed to use these skills to protest racism and corruption by “getting even.”
On February 14, while a lily White canvass of Thursday morning quarterbacks, peppered with a few Black, self-conscious tokens, pundit away about Mr. Dorner, many of us understand the truth behind his fury, and understand. I do not condone the killing of [actually] innocent people, but I do condone every ounce of his heartbreak, disenchantment and anger.
Mr. Christopher Jordan Dorner is no longer in pain, and I hope to go to the funeral of my kindred son to celebrate his life.
Christopher Jordan Dorner (June 4, 1979 – February 12, 2013)
Thank you for sharing this, Cleo Manago! It’s always good to know there are people who are…
***Links to my previous articles on Christopher Dorner: