The manhunt for Christopher Dorner in one sense ended successfully: Assuming that the body recovered from the burnt-out home in Big Bear is his, Dorner's rampage is over, and he won't harm anyone again. Yet it's hard to cheer an episode that left four people dead and that featured police officers firing wildly on innocent civilians in their determination to eradicate a man who had threatened them.
It's understandable that police would be enraged by Dorner. He openly declared war on all law enforcement officers and embarked on a killing spree specifically aimed at his former colleagues. But how does that justify the actions of the officers who shot into a truck driven by two newspaper carriers, Maggie Carranza and Emma Hernandez? Carranza is a 47-year-old Latina who was driving a blue Toyota with Hernandez, her 71-year-old mother; officers somehow mistook those two women for a burly African American man driving a gray Nissan. And, in their zeal or under the impression that any force would be tolerated in these circumstances, officers fired away, hitting Hernandez twice in the back. Both women lived, testament to the poor aim, not the good judgment, of the officers.
To be clear: Their actions would be worrisome even if Dorner had been behind the wheel of that truck. Force, including lethal force, is a necessary part of police work, but it may be used only to protect officers or others from harm. It is to be wielded to ensure safety, not to exact vengeance. While it is especially offensive to have that force used against innocent people, it's even improper to use it in this fashion against the guilty.