While authorities positively identified the charred remains of former Los Angeles police officer and retired United States Naval reservist Christopher Dorner late Thursday, questions are now being raised on whether he qualifies for burial at a national cemetery with full military honors, according to The Press-Enterprise.
Generally speaking, all military veterans in the United States automatically qualify for burial in a national cemetery. They also are entitled to a military gravestone and flag, regardless of the cemetery where burial takes place. Partial or full funding of funeral expenses is paid by the American taxpayer.
Prior to his service in the Los Angeles Police Department, Dorner was a Naval Reserve lieutenant. Commissioned in 2002, he commanded a security unit at the Naval Air Station in Fallon, Nevada, and served with a Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit from 2004 until 2006.
Deployed to Bahrain in 2006 with Coastal Riverine Group Two, Dorner was honorably discharged on February 1, 2013.
“To my knowledge, no one has requested a military funeral,” Meagan Lutz a spokesperson with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs told Examiner when questioned Friday whether a burial with military honors had been requested for Chris Dorner. “If you would like, I can check and get back to you.”
In theory, the former LAPD police officer, retired naval reservist and alleged quadruple murderer is entitled to a military funeral. In actuality, Dorner deserves no such recognition.
Highlighted by spokesperson Lutz of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is a particular passage of federal law under Title 38 of the United States Code, section 2411:
“Interment or memorialization in a VA national cemetery or in Arlington National Cemetery is prohibited if a person is convicted of a Federal or State capital crime, for which a sentence of imprisonment for life or the death penalty may be imposed and the conviction is final. Federal officials may not inter in Veterans cemeteries persons who are shown by clear and convincing evidence to have committed a Federal or State capital crime but were unavailable for trial due to death or flight to avoid prosecution. Federally funded State veterans cemeteries must also adhere to this law. This prohibition is also extended to furnishing a Presidential Memorial Certificate, a burial flag, and a headstone or marker.” (emphasis added)
This means no military funeral with full honors for alleged mass murderer, Christopher Jordan Dorner.
“Dorner deserves a military funeral regardless of who he later killed in civilian life; after all, he was formerly a decorated military man who proudly served his country,” Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney John Contini, author of several real-life crime dramas including Danger Road and Feeling the Heat, told this Examiner. “Let’s face it, the police executed him summarily like an ‘enemy combatant’ in a very war-like approach, as we know, ‘taking no prisoners,’ suggesting by their treatment of him that he ought to get a military funeral.”