Coverage of a series of shooting deaths involving a fired LAPD officer's revenge plot

After Dorner Manhunt, LAPD Must Continue Grappling With "Ghosts of the Past"

A former LAPD officer says that Christopher Dorner's manifesto echoed the racism he, too, experienced in the department.

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Author and former LAPD Officer Brian Bentley said fugitive Christopher Dorner's manifesto resurrected haunting memories of a police department that treated him as less-than because of the color of his skin. Whit Johnson reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Feb. 14, 2013. (Published Friday, Feb 15, 2013)

    What ended in fiery stand-off in a mountain cabin allegedly began with a firm conviction inside the mind of fugitive and former Los Angeles Police Officer Christopher Dorner that a corrupt and racist LAPD ruined his life.

    Detailing several incidents in his chilling manifesto, Dorner writes: "The department has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King days. It has gotten worse."

    Dorner used the 11,400-word document published online to recount his 2008 firing from the force and declare his innocence. He also claimed that an officer "stated that he would say (the N-word) when he wanted."

    Former LAPD Officer Brian Bentley said Dorner’s words resurrected haunting memories.

    "When I saw his manifesto, it listed the same things I wrote about," said Bentley, who is also an author. "He had the same feelings, the same issues. It was almost as if I wrote it myself."

    After graduating from the academy in 1989 (pictured below), Bentley’s excitement over his new career was crushed almost immediately when he received his first assignment at the West Los Angeles station.

    "My training officer looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Look, I’m going to be honest with you. I’m not here to train you. I think all blacks and other minorities are on the job because of affirmative action,'" Bentley recalled.

    For a decade, Bentley said he witnessed a culture of racism that permeated the department. He turned that experience into a book titled "One Time: The Story of a Southern Central Los Angeles Police Officer."

    That book, he said, lead to his firing in 1999.

    "Once you are fired, you lose your friends, you lose your community," he said. "You’re all alone and you feel like you’re all alone. It is a very depressing feeling."

    While Bentley says there’s no justification for Dorner’s alleged murderous rampage, a fringe group on social media does.

    A Facebook page lauds the fugitive – whose charred remains were found in a Big Bear-area cabin – as a hero. That page has garnered more than 19,000 likes. One supporter writes: "RIP… your name will never be forgotten."

    LAPD Chief Charlie Beck made a stunning announcement as Southern California law enforcement frantically searched for the man who threatened to kill police officers and their families.

    Beck said the department would reopen the case into Dorner’s firing. In his manifesto, the ex-police officer warned that violence against law enforcement would end when the LAPD cleared his name.

    But Beck said the move was not to appease an accused killer. Rather, it is meant to reinforce to the public that his department would be transparent and fair.

    "I hear the same things that you hear," Beck said at a news conference Monday. "I hear the ghosts of the past of the Los Angeles Police Department, that people think that maybe there is something to what (Dorner) says, and I want to put that to rest."

    Civil rights attorney Connie Rice said she think Beck "absolutely" made the right decision to reopen the investigation.

    "It was a hard decision and it took cuts to do it and he did for the absolute right reasons," Rice said.

    Rice has gone from LAPD combatant to advisor. She cautions that the wounds are still fresh from the day of Rodney King and OJ Simpson, and that healing among the community and Los Angeles police will take time.

    But through leadership, community outreach and training, Rice said, the department has made significant progress.

    "The leadership of the organization no longer embraces, no longer openly accepts racism and racially hostile conduct," Rice said. "That’s huge. That’s huge."