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Dorner manhunt: What does the public have the right to know?

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“They cannot put out information when they have barely begun their own investigation into what actually happened at a crime scene,” he says. “This is an active, ongoing investigation into many crime scenes by multiple jurisdictions,” he says, adding that meaningful answers may be far off.

But some answers are obvious and should be immediate, says Los Angeles forensic psychiatrist and expert legal witness, Carole Lieberman.  “It is not too early to question the police's handling of the rampage,” she wrote in an e-mail.  

“There was no excuse for them to barrage a truck with bullets without giving them warning and without it matching the description of Dorner's vehicle. And similarly, we need to ask questions about whether they started the fire [in the cabin] on purpose to take killing Dorner into their own hands before he could kill more police or reveal more information about his wrongful termination,” she says. Dorner maintained in an online manifesto that he had been wrongly terminated from his job as an LAPD officer in 2008.

The public is focused on satisfying its immediate demands for both transparency and accountability, says Donald Tibbs, professor at the Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University in Philadelphia. But police are focused on the process of investigation itself – which yields partial answers over a period of time that rarely coincides with the demands of press conferences. Beyond that, he says, “they have civil liability to think about. Anything they say could be used in a civil lawsuit that might be brought by the Dorner family, for instance."

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