What Led Chris Dorner to Go Off the Edge: Workplace Abuse, Racism, and Unfair Firing
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However, court filings paint a different sequence of events: For one thing, although Evans’ evaluation did cite “improvement needed” in a few areas, overall she gave him a “satisfactory” review, not “unsatisfactory.” Moreover, while it’s true that Dorner reported the kicking to Sgt. Perez the day after Teresa Evans submitted her evaluation on Dorner, he didn’t see her evaluation until several weeks later, well after he’d reported her for police misconduct. But the most important point Dorner and his attorneys kept trying to get across was that Evans' evaluation was "satisfactory" — her evaluation would not have hurt Dorner's career.
Nevertheless, Dorner’s timing looked suspicious — why did he wait until she filed her evaluation on him before reporting her? More likely, he waited knowing she might retaliate after he filed a police misconduct report on her — that is certainly more plausible than Dorner reporting her as revenge over an evaluation that turned out to be “satisfactory” anyway. However, Dorner’s delay was used against him in the internal investigation report that charged Dorner with making false statements about Sgt Evans’ conduct, leading to his firing.
As a general rule, American workers have very few legal rights and protections in the workplace when compared to workers in other countries. Although the LAPD union is stronger than many public sector unions, Dorner was still in his probationary period. By contrast, Teresa Evans, an LAPD veteran some 15 years older than Dorner, had many friends and allies on the force.
Chris Dorner’s bad luck, if that’s the right way of putting it, was that he went to bat defending the civil rights of a mentally ill suspect whose testimony was ruled inadmissible as evidence; it essentially came down to Evans’ word (and the word of her police colleagues) against Dorner’s (and the few friends he’d made on the force), along with the incomplete testimony of nearby hotel witnesses. What began as whistleblowing turned into a trial on the character of a new recruit, Christopher Dorner, who now had to prove to the heavily-stacked Board of Rights that he hadn’t lied when he reported Evans for misconduct.
Speaking about this process, attorney Stormer told me, “I am 100% certain that the Board of Rights process is unfair.”
Stormer added, however, another giant caveat about Dorner that his adoring fans have been ignoring: “But this does raise another issue — that Dorner could’ve been the type who would’ve snapped as an officer on duty at any time.”
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In case after case in which the LAPD was successfully sued for wrongful termination, plaintiffs have reported psychological damage that gives some insight into what sent Dorner over the edge.
Officer Melissa Borck won $2.3 million in a harassment suit against the LAPD in 2009, a case in which Borck was a victim of retaliation after she reported misconduct to internal affairs. Borck lost her child, a stillborn, due to the stress. It took her 10 years to finally win her lawsuit.
In 2011, three LAPD detectives won a $2.5 million gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against their supervisors.
In late 2010, a former LAPD veteran, Richard Romney, won a $4 million wrongful termination and retaliation lawsuit against his former employers. According to the LA Times,
A Los Angeles County jury Tuesday awarded a former Los Angeles police officer nearly $4 million in his case against the LAPD, concluding the officer was fired in retaliation for testifying against the department in a labor dispute.
The verdict, which stems from one of several similar lawsuits that thousands of disgruntled LAPD officers are pursuing against the department, underscores a long-running, internal rift between LAPD cops and the department's command staff that could ultimately cost the city millions of dollars more.