Former LAPD Officer Accused Of Killing Three People Spent Time In The Navy

Police in southern California are still searching for Christopher Dorner, the fired Los Angeles police officer who is wanted for three murders and other shootings since the weekend. Robert Siegel speaks with Joel Rubin, who has been covering the story for The Los Angeles Times.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Police in Southern California are still searching for Christopher Dorner. He's the fired LA police officer who's wanted for three murders and other shootings since the weekend. At last word, the search had led police into the San Bernardino Mountains where Dorner's Nissan pickup truck was found torched. Police are going door to door in search of Dorner, who is a 33-year-old, 6-foot tall, 270 pound African-American.

Dorner posted a lengthy statement online. It's been called a manifesto and it details his complaints against the LAPD. Joel Rubin has been covering this story for the Los Angeles Times. Welcome.

JOEL RUBIN: Thanks for having me.

SIEGEL: Let's begin with the story of Dorner's problem with the LAPD. When he was a trainee, he accused his partner of having brutally kicked a mentally ill man who refused to leave a hotel lobby. When she gave him a bad evaluation it brought this accusation, it all went to hearings and a board of review and ultimately he lost and he was fired. This is his grievance? This basically is it?

RUBIN: Yeah, as best we can tell, this is the incident that set off this allegedly horrible chain of events that has ended in the death of three people. He accused his training officer of using excessive force against a man that they were arresting. And the accusation came at the same time as when this training officer was repeatedly giving him very critical comments as to his performance in the field.

SIEGEL: And his service with the LAPD was interrupted by active duty in the Navy. He was also in the Navy.

RUBIN: That's correct. He, shortly before the incident in question, which led ultimately to Dorner's being fired, he had deployed back into the Navy. The Navy had come calling and deployed him on a 13-month tour of duty. When he came back he repeatedly was asking his training officer for more training, saying he wanted to go back to the department's training academy and get out of the field and get reintegrated into the LAPD thing. He didn't feel like he had the skills he needed to be a good cop.

SIEGEL: His, again, so-called manifesto recounts episodes of being called a racially abusive term by some fellow officers. And he goes on to talk about Latino officers and lesbian officers. It's a very rambling account about all the different kinds of characters there are on the LAPD. All of them, I gather, people on his bad side in some way.

RUBIN: Well, yeah, we can presume. At times, it's hard to tell who he thinks are his allies and who he thinks are his enemies. But yes, he does outline several incidents early on in his time in the LAPD in which he felt like he was the subject of abuse and retaliation from other young officers as he as coming up through the department.

SIEGEL: And from what you've been able to find from your reporting - well, you spoke to a buddy of his from college - at some point at least through his late teens or early twenties, he seemed to be a fairly healthy, happy guy.

RUBIN: Yeah, that's certainly the sense we get. I tracked down a buddy of his from college, a teammate of his on the football team who really just spoke about a regular guy, a good friend, somebody he said who was opinionated and liked to talk about, you know, political or social events. He talked a lot about racism but never got to the point where he raised any red flags about his mental health or his tendencies towards any violence. Certainly nothing that raised concern that he might, you know, spiral down into a state where he allegedly is today.

SIEGEL: Joel Rubin, thank you very much for talking with us about it today.

RUBIN: Pleasure. Thanks for having me.

SIEGEL: That's reporter Joel Rubin of the Los Angeles Times.

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