"Americans have always been fascinated with outlaws, going back to early movies, James Cagney and things like that," Rapping said. "You always root for the underdog because of a sense of rebellion.
"We sympathize with them because very often, people do feel they are tied down to rules and regulations and don't have autonomy, and people say, 'I'm going to disregard this, and I'm going to do what I want to do,' " Rapping added.
Twitter users began marking their comments with "#TeamDorner" in support of the ex-officer. There were about 4,000 original posts with that hashtag by Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, more than 1,870 people joined the Twitter page @WeRChrisDorner, a fan page linked to a similarly named Facebook page.
Some tweets pointed out how innocent civilians were mistakenly fired upon by police on Thursday during their weeklong manhunt in Southern California. Los Angeles Police mistakenly shot and wounded two people in nearby Torrance as the civilians drove a blue pickup resembling Dorner's vehicle. The LAPD officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave.
Torrance police also fired upon another blue pickup the same day, but no one was injured in that incident, a law enforcement source said.
"From the perspective of people watching, two cars filled with innocent people were shot at in what to a lot of people looked like street justice than police procedure," said Karen North, a social media expert and psychologist at the University of Southern California.
"It certainly doesn't help a police department that has a history of what looks like brutality, and then they act in a way that looks rash and unthinking on TV," North added.
On a talk radio station in the African-American community in Los Angeles, some residents "were lionizing and admiring Dorner," said civil rights attorney Connie Rice.
Rice has sued the LAPD for racism on behalf of more than 100 minority officers, an experience that she described as "hand-to-hand combat." The LAPD had a "racially hostile culture," evidenced in the videotaped police beating of Rodney King in 1991 that later triggered street riots, Rice said.
"The LAPD's relationship with the black community could only be described as a state of war. Outside of Mississippi, I've never seen anything like it," Rice said.
Because of reforms, however, the department has improved, and she even has a parking space at the police department's offices, she said.
She pointed out how Police Chief Charlie Beck has agreed to reopen the investigation that led to Dorner's firing in 2008. In his manifesto, Dorner said he was relieved of his duties after he reported excessive force by a fellow officer in July 2007. He joined the force in 2005.
The LAPD's history of racism aside, Dorner's alleged violence cannot be tolerated, Rice said.
She also took strong exception with Dorner's supporters and fans in the black community and on the Internet, which she also called the "Id town where a lot of the ugly things come out."
"The community that comes from Martin Luther King Jr. can never condone this kind of violence," Rice said.