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Officers 'Had No Choice' in Dorner Gunfight

Law enforcement officers who faced off with Christopher Dorner at a cabin in Big Bear violated no laws and "had no choice" but to engage in a fierce firefight with the fugitive, according to a detailed review of the incident by prosecutors.

In a 59-page report released Tuesday, the San Bernardino County district attorney's office formally cleared more than three dozen officers from several law enforcement agencies who were involved in the standoff. The findings mean no criminal charges will be brought against any of the officers.

Holed up in a cabin in Big Bear, Dorner eventually killed himself with a gunshot to the head. The report laid the blame for his demise at Dorner's own feet. Dorner, the report said, refused to give himself up and unleashed "a lethal barrage" of gunfire on authorities who had surrounded the cabin.

"All of the actions of law enforcement were justified based on the choices made by Christopher Dorner," the report concluded.

The showdown at the cabin brought an end to a massive manhunt for Dorner that went on for several days last February. The former Los Angeles police officer had killed three people and vowed more bloodshed as he sought vengeance against the law enforcement officials he blamed for his firing.

After fleeing to Big Bear and hiding out in a condominium, Dorner tried to escape the area in a stolen car, but was quickly tracked down. Dorner barricaded himself in the vacant cabin and quickly shot a deputy and a detective from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department as they approached. One of the men was killed and the other seriously wounded.

While the district attorney's office's findings were expected, the report shed some new details of how the battle unfolded, including summaries of interviews with the law enforcement officers involved.

It also addressed the decision by law enforcement to shoot tear gas canisters into the cabin in an effort to get Dorner to surrender, saying the action was justified. The canisters ignited a fire that engulfed the cabin. The coroner who performed an autopsy on Dorner concluded that the massive burns to Dorner's body occurred after Dorner had killed himself.

Copyright 2014 - Los Angeles Times

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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