LOS ANGELES– The parents of a 14-year-old girl killed by Los Angeles police in a clothing store last year have filed charges against the department and the officer whose bullet pierced a locker room wall.
Valentina Orellana Peralta and her mother were shopping for Christmas clothes Dec. 23 at a Burlington store in the North Hollywood neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley. They were in a dressing room when they heard screams and Orellana Peralta locked the door.
Elsewhere in the store, Daniel Elena Lopez, 24, was behaving erratically and brandishing a bicycle lock. He brutally attacked two women, including one who fell to the ground before dragging her by her feet through the aisles of the store as she tried to crawl away.
Following calls to 911, Los Angeles police drove through the store in a formation, video broadcasts with body cameras. Officer William Dorsey Jones Jr., brandishing a rifle, pushed at the front of the pack even as other officers repeatedly said “slow down” and “slow him down.”
Officers saw a woman crawling across the bloodstained floor and Lopez across the driveway, video footage shows. “Hold On! Hold On!” another officer shouted just before Jones fired three shots.
One of the bullets went through the dressing room wall and fatally hit Orellana Peralta as her mother, Soledad Peralta, held her. Peralta “felt her daughter’s body go limp and watched helplessly as her daughter died while still in her arms,” the lawsuit states.
Police ordered Peralta to leave the locker room and wait “what felt like an eternity,” according to the lawsuit. She was not told that her daughter had died.
Her family, who had left Chile to flee violence and injustice in search of a better life in the United States, remembered Orellana Peralta as a happy teenager with many friends who loved sports, loved animals and excelled in school.
Her father, Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas, and Peralta allege that the LAPD failed to adequately train and supervise responding officers and “fostered an environment that enabled and enabled this shooting to occur,” the lawsuit says.
“The filing of this lawsuit is the first step for Soledad and Juan Pablo in seeking the transparency and justice promised to them by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti following the shooting death of their daughter, Valentina,” family attorney Rahul Ravipudi said in a statement. Tuesday.
Ravipudi added, “It is their deepest hope that those responsible for his death will be held accountable and that changes will be made to LAPD policies, practices and standards regarding the use of deadly force which will prevent a another senseless tragedy at the hands of law enforcement.”
Lopez was also shot dead by police. An autopsy report showed he was on methamphetamine at the time of his death.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on July 14, alleges wrongful death and neglect, as well as negligent infliction of emotional distress, and seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages. In addition to the LAPD and Jones, the lawsuit also names the City of Los Angeles and Burlington Stores Inc. as defendants.
The LAPD declined to comment on Tuesday, and it was not immediately clear whether Jones had an attorney who could speak on his behalf. The city attorney’s office said it was reviewing the complaint, and Burlington Stores Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The California Department of Justice is investigating the shooting, as is the LAPD.