Christopher Dorner, How To Effectively Be A Whistle Blower – By Wayne Johnson, Attorney at Law, Oakland, California

VEHICLE 15_540x386Comments on Christopher Dorner 

In February 2013, former United States Reservist and Los Angeles Police Officer “flipped out” and went on a rampage or killing spree.   When he crossed the line and killed that former Los Angles police Captain, now lawyer’s daughter who he says misrepresented him, and her police officer fiancé, he sealed his fate. There was no “coming back” to what we call “reality.”

Who goes on a killing spree for being fired, writes a manifesto confessing, burns his vehicle so that they can pinpoint his location, ties up hostages so that they can escape and report his location, and car jacks another man, leaving him to report his location?

This former soldier had allegiances to the military and the police that were apparently deeply rooted, he having wanted to serve in both for most of his adult life.  In his “manifesto,” he disclosed many perceived injustices within the Los Angeles Police Department, like racist cops, cops from the Rodney King beating case being promoted, lesbian “misandrists” (men haters), Spanish speaking cops who discriminated against “undocumented” immigrants, even ranking Black cops who he says practiced racism against White cops with lesser rank for injustices done to them earlier in their careers by other White cops.  He even says the above officers were possible targets of his personal campaign.

It is terrific he gave us an update and the inside track on the pathetic corruption that continues within the Los Angeles Police Department.  However, honestly, would you not expect an officer who was found “not guilty” of beating Rodney King and who remains on the force to be promoted or moved to internal affairs?  That is how many police departments operate.

Would you not expect some “butch” or manly lesbians to envy or not like men?  Would you not expect some Spanish speaking officers wanting to assimilate into this culture to think that they can erase their pasts by mistreating others who just crossed the border?   That was the theme in “A Soldier’s Story,” a Black blockbuster movie starring Howard Rollins,  Denzel Washington, Adolph Caesar, Robert Townsend, David Allen Grier, Patti LaBelle, and others.

Would you not expect some Black superior ranking officers to dislike or even mistreat lesser ranking White officers who remind them of some of the racist superior officers they encountered?

He assigned a high target value to the above police officers.  Ironically, his manifesto is silent in assigning assassination value to White officers who discriminated against lesser ranking Black officers.

In summary, Dorner allowed the system to push him over the edge and he distanced himself from his possible support groups.   He distanced himself from most Blacks because says he was not raised around Black people.  He probably thought he was too intellectual for most Blacks and felt himself above collaborating or strategizing with them.  That probably explains why his cultural lens was jaded and why he appeared to suffer a deep culture shock.

The sorts of things that ailed him were things that most people, not just Black people, would not become suicidal over.  In fact, many would expect Los Angeles Police to continue to use excessive force, particularly against disabled people and minorities and that they would cover up or fabricate evidence to help other police officers who might be accused of using excessive force.

Most people would not report a supervisor for violating the law, or in this case, violating company policy, that being, covering up excessive force.  Most people would ignore misdeeds and / or go home and self medicate.  Most individuals would not have assumed his or her word would be taken over a supervisor’s.  Most “brothers” would assume their word would not be taken over any one else’s.

On the one hand, Christopher Dorner understood that the suppressive police culture ran deep.   He made comments in his manifesto that most police officers are dishonest and you can tell that police officers are lying when they begin speaking or when they begin a sentence with “based upon my training and experience.”

On the other hand, he also understood his sworn obligation to report other officers for misconduct.  However, maybe he should have weighed his options or took time to plan his strategy.

He says when he attempted to report the female training officer for kicking an unarmed defenseless disabled person he was met with hostility and his testimony was contradicted by a superior officer who he says was not even on the scene at the time of the abuse of authority.  That is what is sometimes referred to as the “Blue Code Of Silence.”  Some Officers will try to protect others on the force because they were similarly protected.  Men who practice chivalry or want to score love interest points will try to protect females on the force.   I understood that might have been an issue in the Oscar Grant case.

Christopher Dorner should have expected his union attorney, a former Los Angeles police Captain, to sell him out, even if he did not.   He should have insisted on hiring an outside attorney, based upon a potential conflict of interest, and he should have demanded his union pay the fees.  His attorney is paid by the union to protect other police officers when they are oftentimes charged with violating the rights of citizens.    His attorney probably sympathized with the officer who was accused of using excessive force.

Don’t get me wrong Christopher Dorner lost a lot.  And, it is “the right thing” to report a “bad” cop for committing wrongful deeds, or any cop for using excessive force.   For his rightful actions, Christopher Dorner believes he not only lost his job at the Los Angeles Police Department, he also claims he lost a top security clearance within the military as a result of being fired from the police department.   Because he could no longer advance, even in the military, he did not think he would ever recover.

Apparently, Christopher Dorner also exhausted all of his administrative remedies and appeals before deciding his life was over.   It is very important to understand that when you go up against the system you have to be prepared and you must have credible evidence.  He should have expected the result and had a back up plan that did not include self-destruction.   He should have video taped or audio taped a conversation with his training officer admitting she kicked the disabled guy in the head for no reason before reporting her.   He should have made several copies.  That way he would have had evidence of her perceived criminal activity that he could have used one of his many copies of the recording in his discharge hearing or he could have provided a copy to the Mayor’s Office or the press or federal politician if need be.

Anyone considering these methods should use caution when recording individuals.    See Title 18 USC § 2511.  This statute prohibits recording telephone conversations without the consent of the recorded persons.   In addition, it is unlawful for the government to collect information about you in places where you may have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The California Constitution contains an explicit guarantee of privacy in Article I, Section 1 of its “Declaration of Rights.”  California courts have applied this protection to the workplace, schools and the state government.  For this right to be violated, video surveillance must fulfill three criteria: 1) It constitutes an intrusion. 2) It intrudes in a location or context where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. 3) It outweighs other interests by the gravity of the alleged violation.

Federal law permits video recording of an encounter between individuals provided one party gives consent.  California has expanded the law to all parties.  So, in California if you want to video a party in a private location, he or she would need to consent to being taped before you could proceed. Violation of this law is punishable under Cal. Penal Code §§ 631, 632.

Had Christopher Dorner played his cards properly, and consulted with a knowledgeable attorney maybe nobody would have had to die, even under what Dorner called his “asymmetrical” and “unconventional” warfare rules of engagement.  Christopher Dorner was a terrific rifle and pistol shot; however, it takes more than sheer firepower to win a war of attrition, especially if you are conducting it alone.  While some may call Christopher Dorner a folk hero or a “Rambo” for standing on his principals, or disclosing racism and corruption inside the Department, had he used his intelligence he could have been viewed as a real Champion of the underdog and a hero to all.  He might even have walked away from the City of Los Angeles without a scratch and a large sum to boot.

Should you want to discuss a case you may contact Wayne Johnson at (510) 451-1166 or   Wayne Johnson does civil and criminal litigation.