If, as LAPD Chief Bernard Parks theorizes, Anthony Dwain Lee was facing Officer Tarriel Hopper when Hopper began firing (Dec. 6), then why did none of Hopper's nine shots hit Lee in the front? And why is Parks acting as Hopper's advocate, a role for a defense attorney, rather than as an objective investigator, which is supposed to be a police officer's job? Are we ever going to find out what really happened? What was Hopper doing back there? Why did he fire? Given the rash of such incidents, is there something wrong with LAPD training?
Or is Parks getting exactly what he wants from shootings like this--a deepening conviction on the part of the general citizenry that all LAPD officers ought to be treated with the deference due armed, unstable characters with a license to kill and maim? It's easier and probably safer for the cops, after all, if everyone's scared of them.
Why doesn't Parks admit that the police officer who shot Lee was wrong? It was a private Halloween party. The officer knew that, yet he proceeded to go on the grounds and, where he could have been mistaken for a costumed guest, shot a man through the window, hitting him four times in the back--especially when security asked him to wait at the gate for the party's host. Are we becoming a police state?
Re "Old Questions Haunt LAPD Anew," editorial, Dec. 7: It is interesting to note that The Times raises only questions related to the judgment of the police officer but asks no "probing and logical" questions related to the judgment of Lee.
Lee attended a party. He chose to dress as a devil and armed himself with a replica handgun. He chose to ingest cocaine. He chose to brandish the weapon in the presence of a police officer. One might question why a devil would be armed with a handgun rather than a pitchfork. One might question what part Lee's use of cocaine played in his decision to brandish the replica firearm.
Lee had hours to plan his day and enough time to engage in a decision-making process that led to the fatal mistake. Hopper had a fraction of a second to make his decision. An analysis of cause and response suggests issues that no amount of editorial hindsight can change. Hopper was in fear for his life and acted accordingly.
SGT. DANIEL WITMAN
LAPD Central Area