Wednesday, February 20, 2013
When I first heard the news about former LAPD police officer Christopher Dorner, another name immediately came to mind; Larry Davis. 19 year old Larry Davis, who later changed his name to Adam Abdul-Hakeem, was a former police informant, small time drug dealer and aspiring rapper who went to war with the NYPD in 1986 after a controversial and highly disputed shootout in his sister’s apartment.
Davis claimed the police illegally barged their way into his sister’s apartment and without asking any questions, began firing at him despite the fact that young children were in the apartment. Davis fired back and escaped by jumping some 25 ft to the ground. During the shootout, Davis shot six police officers and was a fugitive of the law for almost 20 days.
Davis eventually surrendered peacefully, but not to the NYPD. He gave himself up to the FBI out of fear of being murdered by the blood thirsty, racist, corrupt, and revenge seeking NYPD. He expressed great concern that the police were out to get him and told several relatives that if he was caught in the streets, the police were going to shoot him. He vowed to shoot them first.
Davis and his lawyers successfully argued that he was the target of corrupt police officers, who had the reputation for being hostile and brutal towards Blacks and Hispanics in the New York area. To many, Larry Davis was a man standing up against the authorities and understood his need to protect himself against the police. A lot of Bronx residents thought Davis was doing something brave and his acquittal sent a message to the community that white officers were not going to continue to shoot down young Black people without a proper response.
He was acquitted on several accounts of attempted murder and aggravated assault, but was convicted on weapons charges and sentenced to 5-15 years. While already serving time, Davis was convicted of another murder and sentenced to serve an additional 25 years to life.
The interesting thing about the Larry Davis saga was the media coverage of the events that transpired between himself and the police. Without knowing all of the facts, both the television and print media had already labeled Davis as public enemy number one. They depicted Davis as a savage killer, who was armed and dangerous.
Unlike Davis, Christopher Dorner’s past was not as shady as his east coast counterpart. He was a 33 year old, former Naval Officer who was dismissed from the LAPD in 2008 for lying during a hearing in which he claimed a fellow police officer physically abused an inmate. In his lengthy manifesto, Dorner claimed he was the victim of a corrupt police force who turned against him for being a whistle blower.
Also unlike Davis, Dorner’s rage was against the LAPD and he specifically targeted police officers and their family members to seek revenge for his firing from the force. The killing spree he went on is inexcusable, especially for a man who knows the difference between good and evil, right from wrong, just from unjust. His well written manifesto proves that he was a smart individual, but there is no justification for his violent actions.
Dorner was clearly a man who had lost faith in the same system he spent his adult life protecting and violated everything good he learned during his time in the military and on the police force. Restoring his good name was the central theme for his manifesto, but his violent pursuit of justice will tarnish his name forever because of all the innocent people who were affected by his decision to take on the LAPD by himself.
While I adamantly disagree with his actions, I cannot completely dismiss the allegations made in the manifesto. Like the NYPD, the LAPD is notorious for their harsh and brutal treatment of Blacks and Hispanics. This fact is not arguable or debatable. There was no intention on Dorner’s part to be captured alive and the LAPD had all intentions on honoring his request, as witnessed in the moments of the final confrontation.
No matter how much of an image makeover the LAPD has tried to do over the last 20 years, some of the same bad apples are still on the force. Why would some of the officers captured nearly beating the life out of Rodney King be in leadership positions in the department today? A better question would be why those jokers did not go to jail?
Whether people want to believe it or not, there is a Christopher Dorner waiting to happen in every city, in every state in America. He should be the poster child for why people should not be allowed to legally obtain as many weapons as they want to. When he purchased his cache of guns and ammunition, he was a law abiding citizen. He was a time bomb waiting to explode and unfortunately, innocent civilians and a couple of police officers were killed. Not to mention the thousands of southern California residents who were on pins and needles during the search for Dorner.
What ties Larry Davis to Christopher Dorner is the way the media reported each story before having any physical evidence. I watched a couple of documentaries about Larry Davis, to include “The Larry Davis Story: A Routine Typical Hit” and the television series American Gangster which featured Larry Davis’ story.
The rush by the media to label Davis a ruthless killer and armed vigilante was front and center on every news station and in most of the print media in the greater New York area. Ironically, there was a completely different reaction from the people in the communities who had been harassed and terrorized by the NYPD.
People in the community gave Davis the benefit of the doubt and were happy to know that someone finally gave the police a taste of their own medicine. At the end of the day, a jury of Davis’ peers determined that Davis shot the police officers in self-defense.
In analyzing the media coverage of the Christopher Dorner case, it was scarily similar to the coverage Davis received. It’s like the media reports whatever the police tell them and in a rush to be the first to report “breaking news” they present a one sided story to the public as if it were gospel.
People in communities all over the country appreciate the hard working, decent cops who perform their jobs in an honorable and professional manner. On the other hand, people are sick and tired of the cops who abuse their authority. For every cop killed by Christopher Dorner, there are countless incidents in which police officers have shot and killed unarmed Black males.
Remember these names: Amadou Diallo (New York-1999), Patrick Dorismond (New York-2000), Ousane Zongo (New York-2003), Orlando Barlow (Las Vegas-2003), Timothy Stansbury Jr. (Brooklyn-2004), Ronald Madison and James Brissette (New Orleans-2005), Aaron Campbell (Portland-2005), Sean Bell (Queens-2006), Oscar Grant (Oakland-2009), Victor Steen (Pensacola-2009), Steven Eugene Washington (Los Angeles-2010), Alonzo Ashley (Denver-2011), Wendall Allen (New Orleans-2012), and Ramarley Graham (Bronx-2012).
Here are a few examples of these senseless killings within the last year you might faintly hear about on the local or national news for a few days and then the stories fades away as if nothing ever happened.
“Protests in Houston after police shoot unarmed man in wheelchair”
“Chicago Council approves settlement for unarmed man shot by officer”
“Pasadena Trayvon Martin: Police shoot unarmed black teenager Kendrec McDade, then blame death on person who called 911”
“Another Car Shot Up and Unarmed Black Victims Killed, This Time by Cleveland Police Officers”
To some people, police officers are the only bulwark between civilization and an army of evil criminals, even as the police tortures innocent victims to admit to crimes committed by other police officers. Without question, our communities need law enforcement officials to serve and protect the citizens, but we do not need police officers being the judge, jury, and executioner. We need to recognize that authority figures are capable of wrongdoing as well and every criminal suspect is not the monster they are portrayed to be by the media or law enforcement agencies.