Despite audio from a local news station and even clear statements on police radios heard over a police scanner (and recorded), law enforcement is now claiming that they did not deliberately set fire to the cabin in which Christopher Dorner was believed to be hiding out.
According to AFP, police denied that the fire was deliberately set, instead saying they threw a type of pyrotechnic tear gas into the cabin, while still denying that the fire was intentional.
“Sheriff McMahon confirmed that officers had thrown in a kind of pyrotechnic tear gas, which can catch light,” AFP reports.
“We did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out,” San Bernadino Sheriff John McMahon said.
Even CNN reported on the audio from a Los Angeles television station that captured the sound of someone saying, “Burn it down … burn that goddamn house down. Burn it down.”
Yet, according to CNN, the order to use the “burners” did not come for another two hours. “Seven burners deployed, and we have a fire,” one officer said on the radio around 4:16 pm.
According to USA Today, “[McMahon] said deputies initially fired conventional ‘cold’ tear gas into the cabin in Seven Oaks, near Big Bear Lake, then switched to ‘pyrotechnic-type’ rounds known as ‘burners.’”
McMahon also said, “We believe that this investigation is over, and we’ll just need to move on from here.”
While police say they have strong evidence that the individual tracked to the Big Bear cabin “looked and behaved like Dorner,” they still cannot “absolutely, positively confirm” that the body found inside was indeed Dorner.
“I cannot absolutely, positively confirm it was him,” McMahon said, according to ABC.
According to San Jose Mercury News, the actual identification of the body could take anywhere from hours to weeks and it isn’t clear what method of identification will be used.
The best way to determine identity is DNA, according to Dr. Cyril Wecht, former president of the American Academy of Forensic Science, but that could be quite difficult to obtain from a severely burned body.
Furthermore, investigators need DNA from Dorner to compare with DNA from the remains from the cabin.
“Wecht said they could go to family members to get similarities that can be used as a match,” according to Mercury News.
Others, like Scott Carrier, an individual who worked with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office for over 30 years, say dental records will be the way to go.
“In the end, the dental records are imperative. Even with all the new crime scene techniques — with DNA and other procedures — you need to have something to compare the DNA with to get a positive identification,” Carrier said. “Dental records are still the best way.”
While the actual identification of the body will be left up to the San Bernadino sheriffs, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said they are prepared to offer help identify the body in an interview with CNN.
“We all are breathing a sigh of relief. We do believe it is the body of Christopher Dorner, but we don’t know for certain,” Villaraigosa said, according to Reuters.
“We have been working collaboratively from the very beginning to bring this man to justice,” Villaraigosa said, according to Mercury News. “We are prepared to offer any help we can to identify the body.”
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