Fatal Cascade

His manifesto presents his view, of course, but only after events had driven him to extreme acts. The LAPD viewpoint is quite different but, when compared with Chris’ telling, at significant odds.

Some are saying Chris was disturbed and never should have been hired but, once on the payroll and in the system, rules and procedures designed to protect against unfair treatment may have been counterproductive and actually worked to prevent helpful action rather than ensuring it.

And so, it would seem that Chris got inadequate help, if any, and that the LAPD was stuck and unable to ease him out. It would seem possible, then, that the only way to get rid of him was to heap up his errors and misjudgements until he could be fired.

Chris says he was railroaded.

But that doesn’t excuse his actions. Certainly Chris is to blame for what he did. He committed murder.

Some will say the LAPD contributed to his demise, making a bad situation catastrophically worse. We could argue whether or not their actions were right or wrong – and no doubt the department and possibly the press will do so – but clearly, Chris did blame them for his demise. In his view, it was their fault.

Where is the reality?

Given better care, therapy and, perhaps medication, the story might have been different.

Did that happen? Did Chris seek help? Did his employers suggest it, then recommend it, and maybe even escalate up to requiring it?

We don’t know but, whatever the case, Chris didn’t get the help needed to stop the escalation that ended in that cabin in the snowy mountains near Los Angeles.

Where should the blame be placed?

Did the union, in mandating procedural rules and protections for the employed officers, play a part? Were the procedures flawed and unable to guarantee help for someone who needed it or did this case just fall through the cracks?

Constricted by those rules and regulations, however, did the department feel it had no alternative other than to heap up evidence and eventually force Chris out?

If so, then yes, those rules that forced the department’s only way out played a part in what happened.

And what about the press and their sensationalist coverage of other horrific events in the preceding months? Did that affect what Chris did?

Chris sent material to CNN not because he liked them, but because he knew it would be aired. Were that alternative not available, Chris wouldn’t have been able to seek national attention in that way. Would he have calmed down? Would he have tried something else?

Of course, we cannot know. The “what if"s are infinite and unknowable.

We can only know what did happen, and that only comes to us from different viewpoints.

The reality through this long chain of events is hard to find.

In this situtaion, events have cascaded, one into another, like a long train of dominoes.

Was this end inevitable? Was the die cast for this terrible end when Chris was hired by the LAPD?

Or were there missed opportunities where the train of events could have been interrupted, the momentum dissipated, the eventuality diverted into something less terrible?

Chris’ story is done now.

We’ll never know if that was possible.

As I go through my day, I pray for those little kindnesses, to receive and to give, that might make a small difference in such a cascade.

Life is fragile.


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