Real Life Rambo or Public Enemy Number 1?

proxy.storify.comThe frantic hunt for an ex LAPD officer turned shooter has turned into a series of odd and frightening events. The manhunt started out as a search for what was thought to be a spree shooter with a manifesto. The manifesto is available on line and talks about Christopher Dorner’s beef with his former employer the LA police department. It seems the LAPD is now in a stranger-than-life manhunt that is providing more support for Dorner’s manifesto than for the hunt for the ex cop who shot and killed 3 people, including a police officer and the daughter of a former police chief.

We now know that the man hunt for the ex-soldier isthe first known case of a Drone being used to hunt down a US citizen on US soil.

It was revealed that Dorner has become the first human target for remotely-controlled airborne drones on US soil.

It appears that the drone came from the Customs and Border Control Federal Agencies as reported by the UK-based Daily Express.  You’ll notice that most of the chilling and accurate coverage in this post comes from the UK.

POLICE plan to use spy drones in the hunt for a Rambo-style ex-soldier and policeman who has murdered three people and vowed to kill again.

They believe burly, heavily-armed Christopher Dorner is holed-up in the wilderness of California’s snow-capped San Bernardino mountains 80 miles east of Los Angeles.

The burnt-out shell of his pick-up truck was discovered in the nearby resort of Big Bear, where residents and tourists have been warned to stay indoors as the search continues.

Yesterday, as a task force of 125 officers, some riding Snowcats in the rugged terrain, continued their search, it was revealed that Dorner has become the first human target for remotely-controlled airborne drones on US soil.

A senior police source said: “The thermal imaging cameras the drones use may be our only hope of finding him. On the ground, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Asked directly if drones have already been deployed, Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz, who is jointly leading the task force, said: “We are using all the tools at our disposal.”

The use of drones was later confirmed by Customs and Border Patrol spokesman Ralph DeSio, who revealed agents have been prepared for Dorner to make a dash for the Mexican border since his rampage began.

He said: “This agency has been at the forefront of domestic use of drones by law enforcement. That’s all I can say at the moment.”

Dorner, who was fired from the LAPD in 2008 for lying about a fellow officer he accused of misconduct, has vowed to wreak revenge by “killing officers and their families”.

The most bizarre and sad stories from this chase are the number of innocent people who have been shot and endangered by police who appear to be chasing down anything remotely resembling Dorner’s transportation.  This included an elderly Hispanic woman and her daughter delivering newspapers and neighborhood homes surrounding their ambush.

Two women who were delivering newspapers in Torrance, Calif., early Thursday were shot by jittery Los Angeles police officers who mistakenly thought cop-hunting fugitive Christopher Dorner might be in their vehicle, NBCLosAngeles.com reported.

One was shot once and the other twice; both were were expected to survive. Police did not release their names.

Police detectives investigate a shooting scene involving a black Honda pickup truck in Torrance, Calif. Police opened fire on the vehicle in a case of mistaken identity while searching for former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner.

The LAPD detectives were in the neighborhood to watch over a home they believed Dorner might target. Hours earlier, the fired cop had allegedly ambushed officers in two other cities, killing one of them.

Across the region, cops on high alert were on the lookout for Dorner’s dark-colored Nissan truck. In the predawn dark, they saw a blue pickup rolling through the streets with no headlights on.

It’s unclear what happened next, but LAPD Chief Charlie Beck confirmed the officers fired on the vehicle, hitting the two occupants. He said it was a tragic case of “mistaken identity.”

The second person was a young, skinny white man.

David Perdue was on his way to sneak in some surfing before work Thursday morning when police flagged him down. They asked who he was and where he was headed, then sent him on his way.

Seconds later, Perdue’s attorney said, a Torrance police cruiser slammed into his pickup and officers opened fire; none of the bullets struck Perdue.

His pickup, police later explained, matched the description of the one belonging to Christopher Jordan Dorner — the ex-cop who has evaded authorities after allegedly killing three and wounding two more. But the pickups were different makes and colors. And Perdue looks nothing like Dorner: He’s several inches shorter and about a hundred pounds lighter. And Perdue is white; Dorner is black.

“I don’t want to use the word buffoonery but it really is unbridled police lawlessness,” said Robert Sheahen, Perdue’s attorney. “These people need training and they need restraint.”

Police gave no warning to any of these folks.  They obviously didn’t look very carefully either as two petite hispanic women and a skinny white dude don’t look a bit like the suspect who is a well built,  large black man.

The women’s lawyer, Glen Jonas, told the Times LAPD not follow protocol or the rules of engagement before they decided to exercise deadly force.

‘With no warning, no command, or no instructions, LAPD opened fire on their vehicle,’ Jonas said.

‘This wasn’t even close,’ their attorney said.

‘This was two petite Latina women versus a large black man, with a different vehicle, different color. The police didn’t take the time to do the identification.  They didn’t give  the “suspect” the opportunity to surrender. So the whole thing was just mishandled, and we expect that the city will acknowledge that and go from there.’

The police have lost track of the suspect and are now offering a huge reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.  Given the trigger happy police and the drone, I doubt arrest is what these folks have in mind.  The most interesting thing is the shift of public opinion.   The LAPD has a PR nightmare on their hands as well as the manhunt. This is from the Christian Science Monitor

The hunt for alleged cop killer Christopher Dorner has turned into a major public relations challenge for law enforcement officials, in particular the Los Angeles Police Department working its way back from a history of corruption and abuse.

Not only have hundreds of well-trained officers equipped with military-style vehicles – including helicopters with thermal imaging devices one pilot says can pick out a rabbit in a snowstorm – been unable to find the man charged with killing three people and wounding two others on a rampage aimed at police officers and their families.

The LAPD also has been forced to reexamine the reasons for Mr. Dorner’s dismissal as a police officer in 2009 – brought about, Dorner charges in the 11-page manifesto he posted on Facebook, by racism in the department. And the LAPD is having to make amends to the two people – a middle-aged Hispanic woman and her mother delivering newspapers – wounded when police riddled their truck with gunfire. (The women’s truck was neither the make nor the color of Dorner’s pickup later found abandoned.)

A California Public TV station reports that a number of social media outlets are seeing increased expressions of support for Dorner.

America’s history is sepia-soaked with outlaws who have engendered popular support. In keeping with this difficult-to-deconstruct go dorner gophenomenon, a number of social media corners are cheering on suspected murderer Christopher Dorner while authorities are still trying to track him down.

Frankly, I find it very disturbing that the police are using more and more military style tactics.  There are now scads of articles where military tactics used in Iraq are being used in the streets of the US by police departments.  BB pointed out a few of these to me and you may want to look a them.

To counter gangs, Springfield adopts tactics from war zones

Police deployed military tactics to rescue hostage in Alabama bunker

So, there is a growing question about the usefulness of these insurgency tactics in Afghanistan, but apparently, it’s fine to use them in US cities.  This first jumped into public awareness in 2008 as John McCain suggested it was a good thing during his campaign for POTUS.

Senator John McCain has suggested adopting tactics used in Iraq to combat urban crime here at home. McCain made the comment while he spoke before the National Urban League.

Sen. John McCain: “And some of those tactics, very frankly — you mention the war in Iraq — are somewhat like that we use in the military. You go into neighborhoods, you clamp down, you provide a secure environment for the people that live there, and you make sure that the known criminals are kept under control. And you provide them with a stable environment, and then they cooperate with law enforcement.”

We’ve had our own issues down here in New Orleans with our corrupt police, our broken criminal justice system, and out of control urban shootings.  I believe this will continue to be an issue.  Here’s a related thing I just learned today  and it’s been on the ACLU’s radar since 2006. It’s just been expanded to something really frightening in a DHS Report which many lawyers believe is a direct violation of the 4th amendment.

The Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights watchdog has concluded that travelers along the nation’s borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security.

The DHS, which secures the nation’s border, in 2009 announced that it would conduct a “Civil Liberties Impact Assessment” of its suspicionless search-and-seizure policy pertaining to electronic devices “within 120 days.” More than three years later, the DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties published a two-page executive summary of its findings.

“We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits,” the executive summary said.

The memo highlights the friction between today’s reality that electronic devices have become virtual extensions of ourselves housing everything from e-mail to instant-message chats to photos and our papers and effects — juxtaposed against the government’s stated quest for national security.

The President George W. Bush administration first announced the suspicionless, electronics search rules in 2008. The President Barack Obama administration followed up with virtually the same rules a year later. Between 2008 and 2010, 6,500 persons had their electronic devices searched along the U.S. border, according to DHS data.

So, we should really be worried about our due process and the access of police departments–all ready out of control–to sophisticated military tactics, techniques, and equipment via Homeland Security.  Meanwhile, keep your eyes on the Dorner case.  It appears to be layered with morality plays and plots from movies.