|Photo via the Los Angeles Times|
This Los Angeles Times article then describes how it went very wrong:
The officers' radio crackled with an urgent warning: He could be coming your way.It sounds like a case of perceptual set, where the officers were told what they were about to see and despite the differences in the actual vehicle and the one they were expecting. I also supposed that because they were under enormous pressure (and still are) to find this former cop they were quick to act first rather than carefully verifying what they were seeing.
It was around 5 a.m. in Torrance on Thursday and police from nearby El Segundo had seen a pickup truck exit a freeway and head in the general direction of the Redbeam Avenue residence of a high-ranking Los Angeles police official, which was being guarded by a group of LAPD officers.
Police were on the lookout for Christopher Jordan Dorner, a disgruntled ex-cop suspected of hunting down members of the LAPD and their families in a twisted campaign of revenge. The radio call indicated that the truck matched the description of Dorner's gray Nissan Titan.
A few minutes later, a truck slowly rolled down the quiet residential street.
As the vehicle approached the house, officers opened fire, unloading a barrage of bullets into the back of the truck. When the shooting stopped, they quickly realized their mistake. The truck was not a Nissan Titan, but a Toyota Tacoma. The color wasn't gray, but aqua blue. And it wasn't Dorner inside the truck, but a woman and her mother delivering copies of the Los Angeles Times.
I realize that the reaction of the public will probably be like that of the neighbor quoted in the article who asks how the police could have mistake two Hispanic women for one African-American male. But I suspect that students of perception could see how this tragedy could have happened. Sometimes when you're looking for a gorilla, anything that's ape-like might seem to fit the bill.
--posted by Steve