But there's Dorner, smiling in every picture we see, in his uniforms and his medals. Even those who know him can't seem to adequately peg him.
The divided public response to the manhunt has been a reality check for LAPD leaders, who thought they'd reshaped the department into a force that the community trusts and respects.
When Dorner's alleged rampage began, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck dismissed the complaints in his manifesto as the ramblings of a madman.
But the LAPD's credibility took a hit when its officers opened fire on a 71-year-old woman and her daughter last week as the pair delivered newspapers near a Dorner stakeout.
Beck described the incident as a "tragic misinterpretation" by officers working under "incredible tension." But in Los Angeles and around the country, it played as proof of a "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality that gives credence to Dorner's claims that the force is riddled with brutality and incompetence.
Beck has tempered his public comments since, promising to replace the injured women's bullet-riddled truck and review the investigation into Dorner's firing.
"We're a department of human beings, and mistakes get made," Beck told me. "But we're immeasurably better than we've ever been."
He's troubled that anyone would embrace Dorner as a hero or reformer. "I think people are very, very misguided," he said. "I think it's an authority thing … the anti-hero thing is very strong in American culture. We all get shafted by 'the man.' And now we're getting back at him. People want it to be that."
He knows that the legacy of his department is what clouds perceptions of Dorner. "It's a much better story if the LAPD is evil. But that's not the case," Beck said.
And even if it is, that wouldn't excuse what Dorner's believed to have done.
"Let's say he's right about everything that happened to him," Beck said. "Then think about Monica and Keith," the couple he's alleged to have killed. "In no way is that a legitimate response.
"You look at everything and weigh all the facts, you can't possibly have sympathy for him."