Friday 26 December 2014

Police tactics in question over plan to 'burn killer out of cabin'

Nick Allen in Big Bear Lake

Published 14/02/2013 | 04:00

An armed police officer directs and stops traffic in Yucaipa February 12, 2013, during the manhunt for fugitive former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner. Dorner who has led Southern California authorities on a six-day manhunt barricaded himself inside a cabin in the mountains northeast of Los Angeles on Tuesday and traded gunfire with sheriff's deputies, killing one, authorities said. Police said the man they believe to be Dorner, 33, surfaced for the first time in several days after breaking into a home near the ski resort community of Big Bear Lake, tying up a couple there and stealing their pickup truck. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo  (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
An armed police officer in Yucaipa during the manhunt

POLICE tactics were questioned yesterday after officers were recorded apparently discussing a plan to burn down a cabin, where America's most wanted man made his last stand.

Christopher Dorner, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer who threatened to wage "war" against former colleagues, died on Tuesday night after a firefight in snowy woodland in California. He and Swat teams exchanged an estimated 500 rounds, with one police officer killed and another injured.

Radio activity emerged that featured an officer ordering colleagues to "burn it [the cabin] down" and a voice saying: "We're gonna' go forward with the plan, with the burn." One officer was heard saying: "Seven burners deployed and we have a fire. We have fire in the front. He might come out the back."

"Burners" is a term sometimes used by police to refer to tear gas canisters.

A television station also broadcast what appeared to be an officer at the scene saying: "We're going to burn him out," and "burn that house down".

A former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes, told CNN: "It's clear there will have to be some further explanation."

He said officers may have set fire to one corner of the building in an attempt to force Dorner out the other side. Police used an armoured vehicle to break the cabin windows, threw in gas canisters, and told Dorner to "surrender or come out" on a megaphone.

The vehicle tore down each of the cabin's four walls. One shot was heard inside and flames leapt from the building, suggesting that Dorner may have set the lodge on fire and committed suicide. Tests will determine whether he died from a gunshot wound or the flames.

A charred body was later found in the basement of the cabin. Dorner's driving licence was found in the wreckage.

A police spokesman, Cindy Bachman, said: "We had reason to believe that that was Christopher Dorner."

Hiding

The denouement came after it emerged that Dorner, a 19 stone, former American football player and Navy reservist, was hiding in the small community of Big Bear Lake, 100 miles from Los Angeles.

He was living in an empty cabin, within walking distance of where police found his pickup truck with a broken axle last Thursday.

Dorner was soon spotted by a warden from the California department of fish and wildlife. He sped off and crashed the car before stealing a truck being driven by a Boy Scout leader, Rick Heltebrake.

"He had an assault, sniper-type rifle," said Mr Heltebrake. The warden saw the truck seconds later and exchanged fire with Dorner.

Dorner left the vehicle and fled into the woods, retreating to the cabin in Seven Oaks, a fishing spot on the banks of the Santa Ana River, where he was besieged and died.Dorner was sacked from the police five years ago for allegedly making false statements about another officer.

In an online manifesto, he claimed to be the victim of racism from colleagues and predicted that he would die violently. On Feb 3 he shot dead Monica Quan (28), the daughter of a police captain who represented him at the tribunal when he was sacked. He also killed Miss Quan's boyfriend and a police officer.

He had threatened to kill police officers and 50 LAPD officers and their families had been placed under guard. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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