More than three dozen fired Los Angeles police department officers are seeking reviews of their cases after another former officer, Christopher Dorner, took revenge on the LAPD’s disciplinary process by going on a murderous rampage.
Forty former officers have filed review requests since Dorner killed four people in February and prompted the department to reconsider cases of former officers with dismissal grievances.
The requests have put the department’s disciplinary procedures under scrutiny. Many officers feel that there are genuine problems of institutional racism and capriciousness in the force.
The 40 former officers, who have not been named, have had their requests tallied by their union, the Protective League, Gary Ingemunson, a lawyer for the union, said in a column in its monthly magazine.
“I personally received two calls from terminated officers who abhor what Dorner did but both independently stated that Dorner’s description of the discipline system resonated with them. Each said they knew exactly what he was talking about.”
Forty other terminated officers felt the same way, said Ingemunson. “That is the current number of terminated officers who have contacted the League and requested to be put on the chief’s list for review of their cases for fairness. Each has a similar story of being railroaded by the system.”
The lawyer said the department’s board of rights, a panel comprising two senior LAPD officers and one civilian which heard disciplinary hearings, was skewed against complaining officers.
“The board of rights system could be fair, but for the past few years the department has consistently outdone itself in the attempt to completely skew the system against the officer. The department wants to win. End of story.”
The LAPD has overhauled its structure and image since the Rodney King beating in 1991 exposed racism and abuses within the force. However, Dorner’s rampage raised concerns that old problems endured.
The former US Navy reservist held a grudge because the force sacked him in 2008 saying he had falsely accused a colleague of kicking a homeless man.
Dorner posted a lengthy online “manifesto” that accused the department of racism and deceit. “You’re going to see what a whistleblower can do when you take everything from him – especially his name!!!” he wrote. “You have awoken a sleeping giant.”
In letters recently sent to the former officers seeking reviews, department officials said only those fired within the past three years could have their cases reopened, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The fired officers must submit an affidavit or similar declaration using “clear and convincing language” that explains “the new evidence or change in circumstances that would justify a re-examination of your termination”.
Last week, in a separate twist to the Dorner saga, city officials reached a $4.2m settlement with two women mistakenly shot at by LAPD officers during the hunt for their rogue former comrade.
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