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Spy Drones Used To Hunt Down Christopher Dorner 498

Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Express reports that as a task force of 125 officers continue their search for Christopher Dorner in the rugged terrain around Big Bear, it was revealed that Dorner has become the first human target for remotely-controlled airborne drones on US soil. 'The thermal imaging cameras the drones use may be our only hope of finding him,' says a senior police source. 'On the ground, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack.' The use of drones was confirmed by Customs and Border Patrol spokesman Ralph DeSio, who revealed agents have been prepared for Dorner to make a dash for the Mexican border since his rampage began. 'This agency has been at the forefront of domestic use of drones by law enforcement.' Dorner, who was fired from the LAPD in 2008 for lying about a fellow officer he accused of misconduct, has vowed to wreak revenge by 'killing officers and their families.' According to San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon: 'To be honest, he could be anywhere right now. Torching his own vehicle could have been a diversion to throw us off track. Anything is possible with this man.'"
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Spy Drones Used To Hunt Down Christopher Dorner

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:04PM (#42861667)

    That are equipped with similar sensors.

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:08PM (#42861719)
    Well, looks like we can just wipe our collective asses with the Posse Comitatus Act.
  • by Dexter Herbivore ( 1322345 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:10PM (#42861761) Journal
    No different, except for the massive difference in operating costs. How much does a chopper pilot get paid, how much in dollar terms does the fuel cost, how much does the vehicle cost to build? How much does a drone cost in comparison? Ubiquitous surveillance isn't necessarily a goal we want to aim for as a society.
  • by alexander_686 ( 957440 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:10PM (#42861763)

    True – but helicopters are expensive to operate – drones are much cheaper. I am mindful of the slippery slope logical fallacy but it does bring us one step closer to 24 hour surveillance.

  • Re:I wish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:11PM (#42861785)

    He's killing family members too. Any level of sympathy or understanding for his position went out the window when he declared war on presumably innocent bystanders. He might have had a cause but he damned it by his own actions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:12PM (#42861797)
    I get where you're coming from. What the guy did was wrong, no doubt, shooting those cops, but the LAPD is notorious for abuses like the was fired for accusing the other cop of. He was likely unstable to begin with and being fired for trying to do the right thing probably caused him to snap. Everybody has a breaking point after which people behave differently than they ordinarily would. This guy reached his. Moral of the story: if you see a superior doing something wrong, like beating a homeless guy: don't report it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:15PM (#42861849)

    ....that making guns illegal for civilian use would not prevent evil cops like this one from murdering people.

  • first human target (Score:5, Insightful)

    by corporate zombie ( 218482 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:16PM (#42861867)

    Have the drones on the border only been going after sub-humans?

  • by synapse7 ( 1075571 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:17PM (#42861873)
    What do drone "operator(s)" get paid compared to a helicopter pilot?
  • by cornjones ( 33009 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:17PM (#42861875) Homepage

    YOu don't even have to weaponize them for this to be scary (not that they won't). "Look how useful, and much safer than helicopters.", "These are so cheap, we can keep them up all day", "More in the air means more criminals caught", "We could have caught him quicker if we recorded all of this"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:18PM (#42861905)

    The Posse Comitatus Act is coupled with, and defined by, the Insurrection Act of 1807. Basically, it limits the president's power. The North Dakota sheriff in question here is likely not the president.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:21PM (#42861961)

    It's really hard to tell who is even a good guy any more in this situation. The fact that the police are pretty much shooting anything that *might* be him is even more disturbing.

  • Re:I wish (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:36PM (#42862241)

    You can be sympathetic to the position without being sympathetic to the person. If Hitler said he loved cats i'd be sympathetic to his position.

  • by Blue Stone ( 582566 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:36PM (#42862247) Homepage Journal

    >"those charges were dropped after an investigation revealed that they were false."

    Alternatively, with more neutrality and less bias:

    "those charges were dropped after an investigation concluded that they were false."

    I mean ... unless you're certain that the LAPD would never cover up wrong doing to protect their own.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:39PM (#42862297)

    Using drones that cause "collateral damage" to kill a suspect? What happened to the right to a fair trial, due process... ?

    911. The bad guys won.

  • Re:Uncomfortable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:12PM (#42862853)

    "Drone" seems to have too many meanings. If it's ok to send a helicopter in the air to search for someone, what's wrong with sending a light unmanned vehicle into the air as well for the very same purpose? It's not like these are going to be firing missiles or calling in air strikes ala Afghan/Pakistan.

  • by mad flyer ( 589291 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:22PM (#42863053)

    "' Dorner, who was fired from the LAPD in 2008 for lying about a fellow officer he accused of misconduct"

    You seems to be drinking the cool aid too easily. Every other source, the lapd over reaction and Dorners manifesto lead to believe that corruption coverups and raw incompetence was the name of the game for Lapd.

    Ok Dorner is enemy public #1
    but the LAPD looks like a fitting enemy public #2 and not just because they are shooting at anyhthing looking even remotely like a Nissan Pickup truck...

  • by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:24PM (#42863107)

    Not that any of this excuses his actions in the slightest.

    I agree that killing the bad cops is an over-reaction, but otherwise he does sound like one of the good guys who got fired for violating the blue wall of silence.

    The problem is that seeking justice against a cop is a problematic endeavor. Short of improbably convincing evidence that is quite rare in the real world, getting a DA to prosecute a cop for anything is nearly impossible. So our justice system doesn't punish them. Period. Not even for murder (well unless it's for the murder of another cop of course).

    So if you are a justice minded person what do you do? Just accept that the system sucks and live with the injustice? Killing them may be an overly harsh punishment depending on what the cops actually did, but it is pretty much the only thing you can do against them. These guys are armed pretty much all the time. This is what happens when our justice system breaks down and seeks injustice instead. This is one of the practical problems with a corrupt system where a certain privileged elite are above the law.

    It's also important to keep in mind that the murdered cops may have threatened Dorner's life. He may have had reason to believe that they would have murdered him, and of course got away with it, if he hadn't killed them first. The code of the Blue Wall may have allowed that. In their view he is a 'rat'. Think about what criminal gangs do to rats. Aside from the badges they carry, police are indistinguishable from criminal gangs and this guy turned against them.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:27PM (#42863173) Homepage Journal

    You should root for the people who arent running around doing extra-judical killing sprees, and instead root for the people who are trying to catch him.

    But I thought you said were weren't supposed to root for the ones engaging in extra-judicial killing sprees?

    Oh, I see, the LAPD only wounded innocent people, so they're still the good guys, I guess?

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:31PM (#42863263) Homepage Journal

    Let ME point out, that LAPD are civilians. I get so tired of hearing cops refer to citizens as "civilians". And, when citizens go along with the designation, that only makes it worse.

    Veterans and active duty of the armed forces commonly refer to "civilians". Police departments aren't veterans, and they employ relatively few veterans. Dorner is a veteran, so he can refer to you as civilians.

    To your point - if a civilian cop can have a weapon, then any civilian who is of sound mind, and not a convict, should have access to the same weapons. You are ALL civilians!

  • Re:Uncomfortable (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:32PM (#42863269) Journal

    As opposed to arming the helicopters?

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:45PM (#42863525) Homepage Journal

    It's really hard to tell who is even a good guy any more in this situation.

    That's probably because there aren't any.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:45PM (#42863529)

    It was not a similar looking pickup truck. The vehicle shot was neither a Nissan Titan, nor was it grey. It was a blue Toyota Tacoma. And the police engaged the vehicle without issuing any orders to the occupants. No sirens, no verbal commands, nothing. Just *POW POW POW*. LAPD's mistake? They didnt kill the two occupants. Now they will face a civil lawsuit that they cannot win. Often if the victim is killed, then there are no first hand accounts of what happened. Its standard police procedure. If you mess up, leave no one alive to tell any tales.

  • by volxdragon ( 1297215 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:47PM (#42863549)
    I'm surprised this aspect isn't getting more press - did you see the pictures of their truck? We're not talking 1 or 2 bullet holes, it looks like it was in a war zone...
  • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:49PM (#42863585) Homepage Journal

    That's just it. We really could use this technology, but abuse is so damn likely.

  • by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @04:00PM (#42863787)

    Even more interesting, was 30 min later, they shot up another pickup, 2 blocks away from the first shooting..

  • by flyneye ( 84093 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @04:03PM (#42863843) Homepage

    Ahh a tyrrany fight.
    But just right now we are watching our low I.Q. boys shoot it out.
    I just wonder how many more will get shot up in the name of this obviously personal battle. Two last I checked. Does anybody know what the Vegas line on this is?
    Adding an armed drone could hike the casualty count nicely, more if it is cops and not military running the show. I don't care how much training you give a rock, it's still only smart as a rock, but with combat training. Police commonly exclude very high above average I.Q.s as independent thinkers and do not hire them.
    Mustn't have anyone making decisions and judgement calls on their own now. I notice it doesn't stop corruption though. I think it would be o.k. to hire a few rocket scientists for a change.

  • by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @04:08PM (#42863909)

    I didn't realize he had gone after the families of the bad cops. I agree that that is not just wrong, but pretty sick. So basically you have a guy going after the cops' families vs a bunch of cops who have no problem with blindly shooting up every pickup truck that resembles Dorner's, not caring who they kill. Who actually shot a mother and daughter in doing so. The cops who did that should be arrested and put in jail, but is that going to happen? Of course not. These are not men that I feel the slightest bit of sympathy for. They are disgusting, evil human beings themselves. But unlike Dorner they are cowards afraid of going up against anyone armed without absurdly superior numbers, body armor, and all kinds of other unfair advantages. Evil vicious cowards.

    The fact that Dorner has proven himself bad despite ignoring the Blue Wall of silence and reporting the sadistic beating of a helpless suspect shouldn't really be that surprising. Most people who become cops are violent people, bullies, sadists, and amoral sociopaths. This incident just makes me more certain that the vast majority of police are like that. When it comes to US police even the 'good' guys are themselves sick and evil.

    As far as going after 'random' cops, those random cops have proven willing to shoot him on sight. And not just on sight of him, but on sight of anything which holds any chance of him being inside. I'd say that is pretty close to self-defense. In a shoot-out being first to pull the trigger is everything and he knows the cops will shoot him.

  • by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @04:28PM (#42864209)

    The LAPD tried to intentionally murder people in the pickup trucks they shot up like swiss cheese. The fact that they didn't actually kill the mother and daughter is amazing. They certainly tried like hell. Cops without military training are notoriously bad shots.

  • Re:No problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @04:35PM (#42864301)

    It is completely beyond me how those two stories have not garnered more press. Thats bigger than the Dorner case considering it's basically giving rights to the LAPD to open fire on absolutely anybody and get away with it.

  • by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @04:38PM (#42864361)

    Anyone with any sort of real experience with the police, or anyone who has ever searched youtube for "police brutality" already knows who to believe. Why would a cop choose to bring a shitstorm upon himself for no good reason? No one would do that. Dorner's story is simply more plausible and far more likely to be the truth than yet another "false accusation". To the cops themselves every accusation is a false one. And he sure as hell isn't going on a rampage of revenge over a merely satisfactory evaluation. Give me a break. This is the result of the unjust system, of the Blue Wall of Silence, which protects police from their own violent, sadistic crimes.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @04:41PM (#42864391) Homepage Journal

    In further reading, apparently all of the nearby homes and cars are also riddled with bullets. So, we can add reckless disregard for the safety of bystanders to the charges against the LAPD.

  • by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @04:45PM (#42864437)

    I could support this man if he had not started out by killing a cops daughter and fiance.
    Killing of the innocent should be avoided when possible.
    And they should NEVER the targets.

    He fucked up right there in my book.

    Hope he takes out a couple of those murdering Fullerton PD cops before he gets killed or get put away forever though.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @04:46PM (#42864451) Homepage Journal

    Certainly any other group of people who opened fire in a neighborhood would be sitting in jail right now. Given the reckless endangerment of everyone around, even a legitimate threat from someone wouldn't excuse the shooting.

  • by Koreantoast ( 527520 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @04:50PM (#42864535)
    Sensationalist headline on multiple levels. First, law enforcement has been using drones already, ranging from cattle theft to border patrol. Second, the headline is trying to conflate the image with that of an ARMED drone which is extremely misleading; it's like saying that a law enforcement agency is targeting people with helicopters then posting a picture of an AH-64 Apache. This is not to negate the very real concerns that unmanned platforms introduce for law enforcement and civil liberties, but we shouldn't let hysteria get in the away of creating smarter policies.
  • by xhrit ( 915936 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @04:59PM (#42864651) Journal
    Citizen-organized militia groups are a paramilitary force as well, but that does not mean they are not comprised of civilians.
  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Monday February 11, 2013 @05:00PM (#42864665) Homepage

    I didn't realize he had gone after the families of the bad cops. I agree that that is not just wrong, but pretty sick.

    Not in America it isn't sick -- certainly not according to Obama administration's explanation for why it killed Al Alwaki's innocent 16yo Colorado born son: "I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children." []

    So, if it is the position of the President of the United States, that the sins of the father are the sins of the children, how could it be sick for Dorner to believe the same thing? If it is sick for Dorner to believe as Obama does, is Obama sick?

  • by ravyne ( 858869 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @05:04PM (#42864719)
    I'm 100% against the use of drones, but lets not confuse this guy with someone who's using his 2nd Amendment rights to fight tyranny. Firstly, because even if he was railroaded, corruption in and of itself is not tyranny. Secondly, and more importantly, he lost claim to the moral high ground by targeting the family of those he has a grudge for -- two of the three victims were the daughter of someone he holds a grudge against and her fiancee. There's nothing heroic about that. That's murder, plain and simple.
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @05:12PM (#42864857) Homepage Journal

    They are exactly the people who shouldn't be allowed to carry a gun. They are exactly the people who will be exempt from any gun control measure.

  • Fighting a government? This guy murdered some cop's innocent kid and the cop's kid's fiancee. This wasn't collateral damage or some kind of mistake. He stalked them and murdered them.

    How is that any sort of legitimate fight against a government?


  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @05:31PM (#42865119) Homepage Journal

    How is that any sort of legitimate fight against a government?

    Cops murder people all the time. And they send innocent people off to their slaughterhouse prisons to die all the time. And they ruin innocent people's lives all the time. Families are hurt by that all the time. How is that a legitimate fight against crime? And why should their families be immune from the effects of their malfeasance, if the lives of the families of the people they abuse are not?

    Actions have consequences. That's the lesson here. Not "omg, innocents!" And where were you when the lives of innocents were being ruined by these cops? Eh? Have you been pointing the finger at the cops for their daily, nay, hourly, maltreatment of innocents?

  • by DMUTPeregrine ( 612791 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @07:31PM (#42866629) Journal
    And not knowing how to aim.
    There shouldn't have been any bullets fired, but if you're sure of your target* and going to fire at least hit the damn target. There should have been a nice big ragged hole where the driver's head is, not bullets all over the place.

    *the vehicle shot was the wrong make and the wrong color. It looked nothing like the suspect vehicle. The police fired without warning. This is inexcusable. Not knowing how to aim is a training problem, firing on non-suspect targets should always result in jail time on felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon (or similar) and permanent removal from law enforcement.

    There are 5 rules of gun use/safety. All are of equal importance.
            All firearms are loaded. - There are no exceptions. Don't pretend that this is true. Know that it is and handle all firearms accordingly. Do not believe it when someone says: "It isn't loaded."
            Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at anything you are not willing to destroy. - If you are not willing to see a bullet hole in it do not allow a firearm's muzzle to point at it. This includes things like your foot, the TV, the refrigerator, the dog, or anything else that would cause general upset if a hole appeared in it.
            Keep your finger off the trigger unless your sights are on the target. - Danger abounds if you keep your finger on the trigger when you are not about to shoot. Speed is not gained by prematurely placing your finger on the trigger as bringing a firearm to bear on a target takes more time than it takes to move your finger to the trigger. Negligent discharges would be eliminated if this rule were followed 100% of the time.
            Be sure of your target and what is behind it. - Never shoot at sounds or a target you cannot positively identify. Know what is in line with the target and what is behind it (bullets are designed to go through things). Be aware of your surroundings whether on a range, in the woods, or in a potentially lethal conflict.
          Take nothing for granted. Check everything by sight and touch. EVERY TIME!

    Violation of any of the 5 rules should be grounds for mandatory retraining at the minimum.
  • by Marful ( 861873 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @08:17PM (#42866933)
    That's why the police in CA have all sorts of exemptions from the penal code:
    Like the ability to purchase Off-Roster Handguns that aren't on the California Approved "Safe Handgun List" for personal use despite their department issuing them their duty weapon. (Non LEO-Citizens cannot).
    The ability to buy standard capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds for their personal firearms despite these magazines being provided with their duty weapon. (Non LEO-Citizens cannot).
    Or the ability to purchase an Assault Weapons after the end of the registration period for personal use, despite their department providing Assault Weapons (or even actual Assault Rifles...) for their use in each squad car. (Non LEO-Citizens cannot).

    That is just one area where LEO's gain more "privilege" that us mere citizens, think of how LEO's can get out of traffic tickets, can disobey the law, get preferential treatment with all the discounts (despite making six figures...) and can perjure themselves on their official documents and/or in court at whim with impunity.

    No, the Police are a Privileged class of citizen above and beyond a mere civilian.

    And if you have ever heard LEO's talking to each other about us mere peasants, you'd realize how much contempt they have for, and how much they consider themselves above us mere civilians.
  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @11:30PM (#42868085) Homepage Journal

    No, what's obvious is, the police wish to differentiate themselves from regular citizens. And, citizens permit this to happen. I have never talked to a policeman, or permitted a policeman to talk to me, as anything but an equal. Do you permit a cop to talk down to you?

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.