Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has found that eight officers who opened fire on two women in a pickup truck during a search for Christopher Dorner violated the department’s policy on using deadly force, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the case.
Beck will meet Tuesday with the Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD and has the final word on police shootings, to share his finding. The commission will then vote on whether it agrees the officers violated LAPD policy. It will then be up to Beck to decide how to discipline the officers, if at all.
Beck, who declined to comment, made his finding after a lengthy internal investigation into the shooting in February 2013. Investigators found the officers fired more than 100 times at the truck.
For months, police officials have been deliberating whether the officers’ mistakes were reasonable in light of the extreme circumstances that led to the incident.
The shooting occurred before dawn as a massive manhunt for Dorner was underway. Dorner, an ex-LAPD officer, had killed three people and vowed more bloodshed as he sought vengeance against the law enforcement officials he blamed for his firing.
Officers from the department’s Hollywood Division were dispatched to a quiet residential neighborhood in Torrance with orders to guard the home of an LAPD captain who had been involved in the decision to fire Dorner for dishonesty and other misconduct.
At some point, the officers received a report that a pickup truck resembling Dorner’s was seen in the area of the house they were guarding. Shortly after 5 a.m., a truck turned onto the street.
As the vehicle approached the house, officers opened fire, unloading a barrage of bullets into the truck. When the shooting stopped, they realized their mistake. The truck was a different make and model. The color wasn’t gray, as Dorner’s was, but blue. And it wasn’t Dorner inside the truck, but a woman and her mother delivering copies of the Los Angeles Times.
In an interview shortly after the shooting, Beck said Margie Carranza, 47, and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71, were the victims of “a tragic misinterpretation” by officers working under “incredible tension,” he said.
Just hours before, Dorner had shot three police officers, one fatally. And, in an online posting authorities attributed to him, he threatened to kill more police and seemed to take responsibility for the slaying of the daughter of a retired LAPD captain and her fiance.
Hernandez was shot twice in the back, while her daughter received superficial wounds. The women later agreed to a $4.2-million settlement with the city.
A panel of high-ranking police officials that reviewed the shooting urged Beck to clear the officers of wrongdoing, said the sources, who spoke on the condition that their names not be used because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
Beck, however, ultimately found the officers’ actions could not be justified, the sources said.
Since the shooting, the officers, whom the department has not identified over concerns for their safety, have been assigned to desk jobs to keep them out of the field, police officials said.