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Report: In final battle with Dorner, officers' deadly force was justified

Christopher DornerJustice SystemCrime, Law and Justice

Law enforcement officers who faced off with Christopher Dorner at a cabin in Big Bear violated no laws and "had no choice" but to engage in a fierce firefight with the fugitive, according to a detailed review of the incident by prosecutors.

In a 59-page report released Tuesday, the San Bernardino District Attorney's office formally cleared of wrongdoing the many sheriff's deputies, police officers and game wardens who were involved in the standoff.

Holed up in a cabin in Big Bear, Dorner eventually killed himself with a gunshot to the head. The report laid the blame for his demise at Dorner's own feet. For hours, prosecutors wrote, he refused to give himself up and unleashed "a lethal barrage" of gun fire on law enforcement officials who had surrounded the cabin.

"All of the actions of law enforcement were justified based on the choices made by Christopher Dorner," the report concluded.

The showdown at the cabin brought an end to a massive, 10-day manhunt for Dorner in February last year. The former LAPD officer had killed three people and vowed more bloodshed as he sought vengeance against the law enforcement officials he blamed for his firing.

The hunt for Dorner and battle at the cabin were detailed in a Times series.

After avoiding detection for days in a condominium, Dorner tried to escape the Big Bear area in a stolen car but was quickly tracked down by law enforcement officers. Dorner holed up in the vacant cabin. He quickly shot a deputy and a detective from the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department as they approached, killing one and seriously wounding the other.

While the district attorney's office's findings were expected, the report offered some new details of how the battle unfolded, including summaries of interviews with the law enforcement officers who were involved.

It also discussed the decision by law enforcement to shoot tear gas canisters into the cabin in an effort to get Dorner to surrender. The canisters ignited a fire that engulfed the cabin. The coroner who performed an autopsy on Dorner concluded the massive burns to Dorner's body occurred after Dorner had killed himself.

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joel.rubin@latimes.com

Twitter: @joelrubin

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