LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When Los Angeles Police Sergeant Emada Tingirides first got a call from her husband telling her something was wrong, what struck her most was the fear she heard over the phone.
She soon learned her husband, Captain Phillip Tingirides of the Los Angeles Police Department, and their family were named as enemy targets in a manifesto that former policeman Christopher Dorner, 33, posted to Facebook.
Speaking to reporters a week after Dorner’s death in a fiery standoff in the mountains above Los Angeles, the Tingirides described days of living in anxiety under an LAPD protection detail as officers scoured southern California in a massive manhunt.
Dorner, who had expressed anger in his manifesto about his 2008 firing and over racism he says he experienced in the LAPD, this month killed four people over nine days, including two officers from different agencies, police said.
Emada Tingirides said she was driving a patrol car when she received a call from her husband on February 6, the day Dorner’s manifesto came to the attention of the Los Angeles police after Dorner killed the daughter of a retired police captain.
“My initial thought was one of our children had passed away, because I never had heard that sense of fear in my husband’s voice,” said Emada Tingirides, describing the call.
Phillip Tingirides had headed a discipline board involved in Dorner’s 2008 firing on the grounds that Dorner, who was black, falsely accused a training officer of excessive force.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has re-opened an inquiry into Dorner’s firing in what he describes as a bid to demonstrate the LAPD’s commitment to transparency.
Over a dozen protesters on Saturday descended on LAPD headquarters to express dismay with how Dorner died in a police standoff and to call attention to instances of police brutality.
Dorner’s charred remains were found in a burned-out cabin that deputies say was not intentionally torched in a shootout with police. Authorities say he may have died from a self-inflicted gunshot.
Accusations Dorner made in his manifesto about racism and excessive force in the LAPD have struck a chord with some members of the black community and critics of police brutality. These people say they do not support Dorner’s actions but can sympathize with his experience.
The police force has struggled to rebuild its image in recent decades, after the 1992 riots sparked by the acquittal of four white officers in the beating of Rodney King. Since the manhunt began, Dorner also gained a following of sorts online.
“I’ve completely ignored all of that. I‘m not interested in his fan club, I‘m not interested in his Facebook page, and quite frankly I wasn’t interested in the manifesto,” Emada Tingirides, who is African American, told reporters at LAPD headquarters.
LAPD officials have said the Tingirides were among over 50 officers and their families given protection details because it was believed Dorner might target them. Dorner did not kill any of those people with police protection.
But on Tuesday, Beck said Dorner appears to have done physical surveillance on his targets.
“There are some indications he may have been at several homes,” Beck said. “Nothing conclusive as of yet, but it does perfectly fit in with what he was trying to accomplish, which was ... to harm families of those who he felt had harmed him.”
Police say that Dorner killed Monica Quan, 28, the daughter of the retired police captain who represented him in discipline hearings and who Dorner blamed for his dismissal. Quan’s fiancé was also killed in the February 3 attack in Irvine, 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
The Tingirides said they tried to keep the six children in their family from getting scared by turning off the television news and playing board games. They went to the garage to cry together because they did not want to upset their family, Emada Tingirides said.
Meanwhile, Beck is set to attend a community meeting on Wednesday in mostly black South Los Angeles to discuss the Dorner case. Activist Najee Ali, the director of Project Islamic Hope who is organizing the event, said he was struck by how strongly many black people in the city “still distrusted the LAPD.”
“I believe there is racism that’s still a part of the culture within the LAPD. We’re hopeful that Chief Beck will be successful in finally rooting it out,” he said.
Editing by Cynthia Johnston