South Los Angeles group asks LAPD Chief Beck about Christopher Dorner's racism claims

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If one statement summed up the tone of a South LA meeting with the Los Angeles police chief Wednesday night it would be this:

“The one thing that we can call Dorner is a murderer, a monster, whatever – but no one ever called him a liar,” said Skipp Townsend.

Townsend is an executive board member of the Southern California Cease Fire Committee, the anti-violence organization that hosted the town hall style question and answer session with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and Commander Bob Green of LAPD’s South Bureau.

RELATED: See all of KPCC's Dorner coverage

The group organized the meeting after reading Christopher Dorner’s manifesto in which he called out officers who work in LAPD’s South Bureau, a division that covers most of South L.A.’s neighborhoods.

From Dorner's manifesto:

"Those Caucasian officers who join South Bureau divisions (77th,SW,SE, an Harbor) with the sole intent to victimize minorities who are uneducated, and unaware of criminal law, civil law, and civil rights. You prefer the South bureau because a use of force/deadly force is likely and the individual you use UOF on will likely not report it. You are a high value target."

Members of the group wanted to know if there was any truth to the allegations.

“Was Dorner correct in saying that it’s overlooked? That there are cliques? That there are certain groups that just won’t rat on each other?" Townsend asked. "That’s what we want to know. That’s what we need.”

Since the search for Dorner began more than two weeks ago, the LAPD has had to answer uncomfortable questions about the department’s past. Chief Beck said he’s met with minority groups, community leaders and hosted news conferences to talk about Dorner’s manifesto.

RELATED: Ask the Chief: LAPD Chief Charlie Beck on the Dorner case and more

For two hours, group members and people from the audience took turns peppering Chief Beck with questions on Christopher Dorner’s assertions about the police department.

One member of Cease Fire asked if the two suspended officers that Dorner accused of using the N-word around him still worked at South Bureau. Neither the Chief nor Commander Green could say where those two officers work now.

That earned skeptical chuckles from the audience.

Chief Beck also said he couldn’t say whether Sgt. Teresa Evans, Dorner’s supervisor he accused of using excessive force, was flagged before for having a record of abuse. He said laws on employee personnel records keep him from discussing specifics about officers.

“But I can tell you is that there are many things in the manifesto that are not true and that is not technically true,” Beck said.

The community called for a full investigation and a transparent review process of Dorner’s employment at LAPD and his allegations of racism and misconduct against the department.

“I want you to be a man of your word and look into that manifesto and dissect it,” said community member Linda Jay.

Other questions asked about the Dorner case included whether there was enough time allowed for Dorner to surrender. One person asked whether officers are evaluated after being fired to measure how disgruntled they are and if they posses the potential to retaliate. Another asked if police officers are allowed to be on psychiatric medication while on-duty.

Chief Beck deferred questions about the stand-off to the San Bernardino’s Sheriff’s Department. He said fired or laid off LAPD personnel can choose to meet with LAPD staff psychologists. Beck added that police officers are not allowed to be on psychiatric medication while on-duty.

Some came with personal stories of how a police officer used excessive force to beat their family members or friends.

D’Ron Harron, an automotive dealer who grew up on 80th Street talked about the demeanor of police officers on the ground.

“I would like the officers that patrol our community to be here instead of us talking to the LAPD brass that are going to speak on policy,” Harron said. “Their actions are different.”

Many called for the LAPD to hire more black officers to patrol on the ground. Chief Beck said that about 11 percent of the department is African American, but he said the goal is to add more African American officers.

The meeting closed with a handheld prayer of living together in peace and a short speech from Chief Beck about his  personal commitment to the South Bureau.

"I will always be honest with you," Beck said. "I will be faithful to this community and I will do the right thing by you."

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