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LAPD Chief Beck’s Plans To Reopen the Dorner Dismissal Case Should Be the 1st Step. More Concrete Steps Must Follow

February 10th, 2013 by Celeste Fremon

As most of you have doubtless heard by now,
in an interview with CBS’s Pat Harvey on Saturday, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said that he would reopen the case that led to Dormer’s termination.

(You also I’m sure know that a $1 million reward is being offered for information leading the capture and conviction of Dorner.)

Reopening Dorner’s case is an important move. Despite vast improvement, the toxic elements of the bad old days of the LAPD still linger in cracks and corners of the department, and sometimes that toxicity leaks outside those cracks and corners. Once upon a time in the Los Angeles Police Department, those who reported other officers for wrongdoing were quickly marginalized, racism ran deep in too many quarters–both the overt and the simply careless variety—and an us versus them, siege mentality that lent itself to brutality, evidence planting, and the criminalization of whole communities, ruled too much of the day.

Through the imposition of a federal consent decree, and the work of two chiefs determined to transform the malignant sides of the department culture, along with the less recognized efforts of the city’s many good and decent cops—both supervisors and rank and file—the LAPD began the slow process of change.

As of now, the Los Angeles Police Department has come a very long way, both in terms of its own reform, and in the way it is viewed by the communities it serves, in particular the minority communities who were most on the receiving end of the brutality and racism that ran deep and wide through the department during its worst years.

But to think the job is over, is to be dreaming. For all Dorner’s monstrous (alleged) actions and his unimaginably ghastly threats, amid his vengeful ragings there are many statements that ring grimly and dishearteningly true.

Therefore it is good to hear Chief Beck make it clear that, amid the nightmarish threat that officers and their families are facing, he doesn’t want to lose the gains in community relationships that the strides that the last decade have brought—while not for a moment insisting that everything has been fixed in the Los Angeles Police Department. The department is “better but not perfect,” he said. And, so, he’s reopening the Dorner case.

“I am aware of the ghosts of the LAPD’s past, and one of my biggest concerns is that they will be resurrected by Dorner’s allegations of racism,” Beck said in a statement.

Beck’s concern is appropriate. Yet the concern needs to be broadened to include the present, not just the past. The destructive spirits of the LAPD’s bad old days, while their power is greatly lessened, are not gone. Let us all be honest about that fact.

With this in mind, reopening the Dorner case should be the first step of many for the department, not the sole step.

I think Chief Beck is leaning that direction. “We will also investigate any allegations made in his manifesto which were not included in his original complaint,” the chief wrote in his statement. But he must be backed in this endeavor by the union, by the political forces in the city, and by the men and woman of the force itself.

It should, for example, sober everyone that some LAPD officers, because of their fear that Dorner was in the area and might threaten the officer they were guarding, appeared to give themselves permission, without a scintilla of actual provocation, to light up a suspicious-seeming truck containing two newspaper delivery women—nevermind that the women’s truck did not match the make or color or the plate number of Dorner’s vehicle. We desperately want our officers to be safe from the man who is stalking them. But, their safety cannot ever be bought at the cost of the safety of the residents of the communities they have taken an oath to protect and serve.

The details of the second appellate ruling against Dorner tend, on first bounce, to suggest that he was wrong in accusing his training officer of kicking a homeless man that Dorner and his boss were apprehending, but as a law enforcement friend pointed out in a conversation about the matter Saturday night, “You know how that goes. Those outcomes can be cooked. We’ve all see it happen.” Yep, we have. And courts are notoriously reluctant to decide against police officers.

So, a thank you to Chief Charlie Beck for opening the investigation. And please, LAPD, make very, very sure that the reexamination is right and good and true. As your chief said, you are not reopening the issue to appease an alleged multiple murderer; you’re reopening it to reassure Los Angeles residents that you no longer punish whistleblowers, and that racism no longer calls the shots—either overtly or subtly—in the LAPD. And that you will not put up with officers who believe they have the right to abuse and dehumanize anyone they designate as “the bad guys.”

And, if by chance, Dorner happened to be right in the accusation that, in part, led to his termination, please have the courage to say so.

It is very painful to admit that a man who is suspected of creating so much grief and havoc— a man who wishes to create far more grief and havoc—has made some righteous points that demand our attention. But that happens to be the case.


The full Beck interview is above, and it’s interesting to watch. Chief Beck looks more strained than I’ve ever seen him, understandably so.

The part of his interview below gives an idea why (if we didn’t know already):

Beck: Look I have over 50 families—-50 families—of Los Angeles police officers that have protective details living with them right now, because we’re so concerned about their safety because they are specific targets of Dorner, because he’s stated that in his manifesto. And he has demonstrated through the murders of Monica and her fiance that he is serious about what he’s said in that manifesto. Now imagine having to go through you daily existence like that knowing that your family is the target of a trained assassin like Dorner. Now, imagine the way that would affect you and way you go about your day to da You know, all of us, including me, when we become police officers, we know there’s risk. And we’re willing to accept those risks. But we’re not willing to accept those risks for our kids. And our wives. and our husbands. We don’t expect them to shoulder the burdon of our profession.

Beck’s official statement can be accessed here.

The chief is a very good man in profoundly difficult situation. We are rooting for him.

NOTE: the NY Times has an interesting article on Beck’s decision to open Dorner’s case.

AND THE LA TIMES’ Jack Leonard, Joel Rubin and Andrew Blankstein have a must read story on Dorner’s case and how Dorner’s perceived credibility, more than the facts, may have decided it.

Posted in Charlie Beck, LAPD, Lists, race, racial justice | 8 Comments »

8 Responses

  1. prophet mo' teff Says:

    While LAPD Chief Beck finds himself open to authorizing reviews within his department, serious unexplored issues remain from the most widely publicized LAPD investigation of 2011.

    The assault which left San Francisco Giant’s fan Bryan Stowe critically injured in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium at the 2011 season home opener was the most high profile crime in L.A. that year or possibly this decade.

    The crime occurred within the geographic boundaries patrolled by LAPD’s Northeast Station, whose detective desk was assigned the investigation instead of handing the case over to the department wide Robbery/Homicide unit.

    After 6 weeks, Chief Beck and Northeast detectives held a news conference identifying parolee Giovanni Ramirez as a confirmed suspect. Ramirez had been arrested on an unrelated violation, yet an emotional Chief Beck assured the public Ramirez was definitely one of Stowe’s attackers.

    Ramirez was brought to the attention of Northeast detectives by his parole officer based on resemblance to a composite sketch of the Dodger Stadium assault suspects.

    Within 2 weeks, the airtight case that fingered Giovanni Ramirez was collapsing. Chief Beck reassigned the Dodger Stadium assault investigation to the Robbery/Homicide unit – which began their work from square one.

    Approximately six weeks later the second investigation resulted in the arrest of Marvin Norwood and Louis Sanchez for the assault on Bryan Stowe. The evidence against Norwood/Sanchez leaves no doubt about their attendance at the Dodger game seated near Bryan Stowe and his party. Norwood/Sanchez are currently set to stand trial for the Stowe assault.

    The vital and unanswered question remains – what were the Northeast station detectives doing for 6 weeks of authorized overtime on the Stowe assault case??

    Robbery/Homicide worked the same tips and evidence to correctly solve the case which Northeast detectives had available for the original investigation.

    What lead Northeast Station detectives to pass over the real suspects Norwood/Sanchez and instead close in on the wrong suspect?

    How can Beck helm his department to systemic improvement without initiating a search to locate some answers?

  2. 10-33_Go Says:

    It’s fair to ding LAPD for being in such a hurry to get in front of the cameras (or in answering media demands) on the Stowe case that they fingered the wrong guy. It happens and the process worked, and Ramirez got hemmed up on his own wrong doings anyway. But none of that’s really that relevant here. More relevant: why do you refer to yourself as a prophet?

  3. First Step Says:

    The First Step should be getting the Rogue X-LAPD OFFICER in Jail!

    Let’s not forget the REAL victims in this case.

  4. John Moore Says:

    I think it’s completely wrong to open the investigation while Dorner is still at large – just like it’s wrong to negotiate with terrorists (such as Dorner).

    Once Dorner is no longer a threat, perhaps it’s the right thing to do. But for now, it just sends a message that you can get your grievances heard if you shoot a few folks and threaten the cops.

    Bad, bad, move.

  5. prophet mo' teff Says:

    @ 10-33_Go Says – you are wrong. 180 degrees to the wrong. the moniker used for posting comments is irrelevant for you, me and anyone else.

    I could use Little Bo Peep, King George IV, Prophet Mo’ Teff or Pink Lady and Jeff – it makes not a donut crumb of difference.

    As for the initial investigation into the Bryan Stowe assault at Dodger Stadium parking lot which delivered suspect Giovanni Ramirez – the process did not work. It did not work in any acceptable or rational way, shape or form.

    unexplained gaping black holes were opened and simply walked away from without a whimper from the police, the politicians or the citizenry requesting an explanation.

    the taxpayers pick up the check – they are entitled to know where the kitchen is getting the ingredients and how long they’re left sitting uncovered outside the refrigerator.

    Explanations are due all around. Giovanni Ramirez is important to everything in the LAPD including Dormer right now.

    Northeast Station detectives were given unprecedented resources for six weeks and came up with NOTHING. What were they doing that entire time? Why hasn’t the Police Commission confiscated their notebooks to see if there is anything in there except doodles?

    How do we know if those detectives even know how to read? Its shocking how far some people are able to advance in an organization if they just stick around long enough.

    6 weeks of investigation and zero, nada, zilch.

    6 weeks with all the evidence that Robbery/Homicide used to pin Norwood/Sanchez. That includes advanced purchase tickets near the victim. Purchased by Norwood and by Sanchez – their names in the computer with those seats. That includes 3 separate witnesses seated in the same section who independently provided detailed reports of offensive and provocative behavior by Norwood/Sanchez.

    6 weeks investigating and Northeast Station detectives did not even have Norwood/Sanchez on their radar? They had nothing on their radar. That is why they barked with glee like 5 year olds at an ice cream party when Giovanni Ramirez’ parole officer called the detectives and offered up homeboy as the villain.

    Northeast Station detectives jumped at easy pickings. Real investigations require meticulous and organized work – but its much easier to build an entire case on witness identifications. Keep juggling and squeezing the lineups and eventually they will get some positive I.D.s, it won’t take any longer than training seals to play tic-tac-toe if you have a bucket of sardines.

    If Northeast Station used that game plan for the most widely covered investigation of their careers – then what do you expect they use to crack the case on murder, rape, assault, armed robbery and on down the scale when the only coverage is 2 lines on the backpage?

    The process DID NOT WORK. It did not work.

    Giovanni Ramirez was tarred and feathered and marked for slow ride back down into the belly of the beast.

    Chief Beck sealed the deal with a sprinkling of real tears, no explanation ever provided for the Chief’s strangely timed emotionality.

    Giovanni Ramirez wasn’t spared by the process, he had high-dollar resources rolled out on his behalf. The kind of resources that people like Giovanni Ramirez can’t afford.

    How was he able to get Anthony Brooklier as an attorney? Even more important to his case, how could he afford the private investigators who left no stone unturned in establishing his alibi?

    Giovanni Ramirez has an undesirable record, but he wasn’t at the Dodger Game and he didn’t sucker punch Bryan Stowe.
    But we have never received any explanation for why he rented a hotel room and forced his girlfriend to watch him shave off his hair. A day after the Stowe assault Giovanni Ramirez changed his appearance to look more like the suspect. why?

    Now let’s bring the discussion back around to the present and Dormer.

    Some people have expressed a bit of smug satisfaction at the travails of the LAPD and other police pursuing Dormer. Dormer plays smoke and mirrors while leaving a trail of blood and egg on the face of LAPD.

    I can imagine nobody who I believe gets more personal happiness and satisfaction from watching the LAPD’s travails around Dormer than the attorney who represented Giovanni Ramirez – Anthony Brooklier, Esq.

  6. Answering The Question Says:

    Celeste, let’s be clear. The psycho murdered three innocent people.
    We all know the past of LAPD, and for that matter, racism in this country. It doesn’t take a killing spree for us to be reminded of, or to be vigilant concerning racism in the LAPD or anywhere else. You yourself stated that the LAPD has come a long way. It didn’t take a murder spree for that to happen.

    For anybody to suggest that his actions should lead to re-addressing these problems is to suggest that, he should get what he wants (re-airing of his grievances).

    It sends the wrong message.

    BTW, I was perplexed by your (alleged) remark. The guy wrote a manifesto, telling the world he was going to murder people. His truck was found with weapons in it. He’s gone into hiding. He’s been I.D.’d by a victim in San Diego as trying to steal his boat.

    Another thing. If it’s found that in fact it was Dorner who called the father of Ms, Quan, and told him:
    “You should have protected your daughter better”…..think about the cruelty of that action.

    I wouldn’t give Dorner satisfaction by saying:
    “many statements that ring grimly and dishearteningly true.”

  7. Celeste Fremon Says:


    ATQ, the “alleged” (or reported or charged or…) is simply appropriate journalistic and legal language until someone is convicted. It doesn’t reflect whether or not I think Dorner murdered three people. I have no doubt that he did.

    I’ve read the unredacted “Manifesto” twice.

    As for the rest, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. I struggled a great deal with what I wrote, and in the last 3 days I consulted deeply on the matter with a wide variety of people whom I respect—both within law enforcement and not, friends from minority communities and not. After those conversations I came to the conclusion that this is a conversation we have to have.

    I can fully understand and respect if you don’t agree with me.

    What I wrote in no way alters the fact that Christopher Dorner and his actions are beyond monstrous; they are straight-up evil. And I don’t use that word lightly.

    To have killed Monica Quan and her fiance, and then called her father…. There are no words that are adequate….

    And to Prophet Mo’ Teff: Once you get going, you have a habit of either serial posting or writing 700 word novellas, like your last comment. Please dial it back a bit. Thank you.

  8. Little Bo Peep Says:

    Let “Prophet Mo’ Teff” post his 700 word manifesto, it’s an interesting read. :)

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