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LAPD Chief Beck remembers Christopher Dorner victims, defends use of 'hot gas'

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck speaks to reporters at Police Headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Police Captain Phil Tingirides (LA) and Tingirides' wife Emada (R), who is also an LAPD officer, were among those threatened in the Dorner online manifesto.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck speaks to reporters at Police Headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Police Captain Phil Tingirides (LA) and Tingirides' wife Emada (R), who is also an LAPD officer, were among those threatened in the Dorner online manifesto.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC

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LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said his first thought when he read the ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner's threatening manifesto was simple: "How do I protect all these people?"

Speaking at a news conference at LAPD headquarters before an abnormally quiet group of reporters, Beck praised his law enforcement partners all over Southern California who "worked seamlessly together" to find Dorner.

The ex-cop and former member of the Navy died last week after law enforcement officer cornered him in a cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains. The San Bernardino County Coroner said the cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head that may have been self-inflicted.

Beck defends tactics against Dorner

At his news conference, Beck defended the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department's decision to subdue Dorner with tear gas often referred to as "hot gas." The gas is not used specifically to cause fires, he said, but can touch off a fire in some circumstances.

"They didn't know what other type of capabilities Dorner had," said Beck.

Beck also pledged to fairly distribute more than $1 million in reward money offered for information leading to Dorner's capture and conviction. 

But mostly, Beck reflected on the episode as part of the evolving history of the Los Angeles Police Department, its fraternity, and its reputation in the community.  

"When we initially got the manifesto and I saw the names on the list, including my own, immediately my thoughts go to, 'How do I protect all these people?'" Beck said. "It just reminds you how fragile this all is."

RELATED: LAPD manhunt: The search for alleged cop killer Christopher Dorner

Beck: "Remember the victims"

The shooting spree began at an apartment parking structure in Irvine with the deaths of Monica Quan and her fiance Keith Lawrence. Quan's father Randall Quan is a former LAPD officer turned lawyer who represented Dorner at the disciplinary hearing that ended with his termination from the department. Beck said Monica Quan had attended school with his children.

Investigators say Dorner also killed Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain and San Bernardino Sheriff's Deputy Jeremiah MacKay and injured at least three more law enforcement officers.

Despite the frenzy and drama around the Dorner manhunt in the San Bernardino Mountains, Beck insisted that "we have to remember these victims."

Also victimized by Dorner, said Beck, were the officers named in a manifesto Dorner posted to a social networking site. For days, 51 protection details guarded those potential targets and their families.

"This will stay with these children for the rest of their lives," Beck said.

RELATEDRiverside police officer shot by Christopher Dorner released from hospital

Beck: LAPD officers "will protect all of you"

That high level of protection for police officers raised questions about whether such protections would be offered to ordinary citizens who live under the threat of gun violence.

"We protect citizens every day," Beck said. "That's what I do for a living. If anyone looks through the recent history of the Los Angeles Police Department, you will see that we do a really good job of protecting citizens. The crime rate has been cut in half in the last 10 years."

But Beck also noted that "law enforcement is a unique profession."

"I bring in young men and women and they commit to all of you that they will protect all of you and not even know who you are," he said. "They will lay down their lives for people they do not know."

Beck also reiterated his pledge to fully investigate Dorner's firing from the LAPD. Police administrator Gerald Chaleff is expected to complete his review next month. The review will go to the Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD, and to the city's Office of the Inspector General. 

LAPD family under protection
Joining Chief Beck at the news conference was LAPD Captain Phillip Tingirides. He and his wife Sgt. Emada Tingirides retold their story of living under protected detail for six days with their children.
The couple has a blended family of six children with ages ranging from 10 to 24, including a daughter’s boyfriend who stayed with them during the lockdown.

“When you get a phone call and they tell you somebody is after your family and they’ve already killed someone else’s daughter, it made me sick to my stomach,” said Cpt. Tingirides.

Tingirides is in charge of the Southeast Division in Watts. He also chaired the Board of Rights disciplinary panel that heard Dorner’s appeal of his 2008 firing. The panel turned down the appeal.
In Dorner’s manifesto, he named Phillip Tingirides among the current and former LAPD officers he had targeted for revenge. He included their families as targets, too.

“Never ever did I think somebody would go to this extent in their rage over the discipline that was handed out to them,” said Tingirides.

The couple said they thought about leaving the state but decided a temporary move was too expensive and too much of a disruption in the children’s school and sports activities.  

“There were many times where we’d never broke down. We’d go into the garage and cry,” said Sgt. Emada Tingirides.
Phillip and Emada Tingirides returned to work Monday. They said they were grateful for two positives that emerged from the experience: their family is closer now and they have greater empathy for those who live under the threat of violence daily.