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Legacy of Christopher Dorner case: rekindled distrust, resentment of police

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In Los Angeles, the Dorner case appears to have laid bare a rising apprehension among some black residents that the police department is backsliding on gains it had made – in transparency, professional conduct, and community relations – since the Rodney King beating.

Chief Charlie Beck moved almost immediately to address concerns, evidently mindful that the case is breeding resentment against the LAPD. Even before the hunt for Dorner reached its unhappy outcome, Beck told the public that the department would review the ex-cop's allegations that he had been fired unfairly in retaliation for reporting abuse by a colleague.

"We are only as good as the public thinks we are," he said at a Feb. 19 press conference. "Confidence in law enforcement is our stock in trade."

"Black folk believe the allegations of racism and discrimination described in Dorner's manifesto; we believe that [the] LAPD fired him for crossing the blue line and reporting police abuse by his training officer; we believe the training officer kicked and hit the suspect as described by Dorner," says Nana Gyamfi, an attorney, professor, and human rights activist in Los Angeles.

"While many do not condone Dorner's killing spree, we understand how he found himself in the position in which he felt he had run out of 'legal' ways to bring racists to justice and restore his name."

Beck will have his work cut out for him to demonstrate that the review of Dorner's allegations is full and fair. Several black community activists have noted that they are leery of his ability to deliver on that because he is a lifetime veteran of the LAPD.

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