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North Hollywood Burlington shooting: No charges for LAPD officer whose bullet hit teen, AG says

North Hollywood Burlington shooting: No charges for LAPD officer whose bullet hit teen, AG says


LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The state attorney general's office announced Wednesday that it will not bring criminal charges against a Los Angeles Police Department officer involved in a December 2021 shooting at a North Hollywood store in Burlington that killed a suspect of assault and a 14-year-old girl who was hit by a stray bullet in a locker room.

The teen, Valentina Orellana Peralta, was killed Dec. 23, 2021, while shopping with her mother – trying on Christmas dresses – at the store at 12121 Victory Blvd. The girl was in a second-floor dressing room when a bullet fired by Officer William Jones passed through a wall and struck her.

“This case was particularly difficult to handle because it involved the loss of two lives,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. “Any loss of life is a tragedy, and my thoughts are particularly with the family of Valentina Orellana Peralta, who tragically lost her life and whose only involvement in this incident was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Department of California The Department of Justice remains steadfast in our commitment to working together with all law enforcement partners to ensure an impartial, transparent and accountable legal system for every California resident.”

RELATED: Groups call for arrest of LAPD officer involved in Burlington store shooting that killed 14-year-old

Police had gone to the store looking for a suspect who had attacked several people with a metal bicycle lock. That suspect, Daniel Elena Lopez, 24, was also killed. Police said at the time that a bullet fired at the suspect ricocheted off the floor, then passed through a back wall, entering the locker room where it struck Valentina.

The teen died in the arms of her mother, who said she and her daughter sat down and hugged each other when they heard the commotion in the store. The force of the gunshot that hit Valentina knocked them to the ground.

“While I was calling for help, the police did not come to help me or my daughter, but I continued to scream,” Valentina's mother, Soledad Peralta, said at a conference in press a few days after the shooting. “When the police finally came, they took me out of the locker room and left my daughter lying there. I wanted them to help her, but they just left her there alone.”

Police at the time released body camera footage of the encounter, which began when officers responded to reports that a man had assaulted people and possibly fired shots inside the store from Burlington.

The video included footage showing the assault suspect viciously attacking a woman on the second floor of the Burlington store, repeatedly beating her with a steel or metal cable bicycle lock, leaving her bloodied on the floor inside. arrival of agents.

Body camera video also captured the sound of police gunshots ringing out quickly as officers spotted the suspect – with the cable lock in hand.

More than half a dozen officers rushed to the suspect after the gunshots were heard, and the injured suspect was taken into custody and later pronounced dead at the scene.

Although the video showed the suspect with the cable lock in his right hand, there was no indication he was armed with a firearm. Police said no weapons were found at the scene.

The video released by the LAPD included audio from a series of 911 calls. During one call, a store employee informs a dispatcher that a suspect is in the store and attacking people with a bike lock . In another, a woman reports the sound of shots being fired in the store, saying there is “a guy with a gun.”

Another caller reported that her mother was hiding inside the store from a man threatening her. She added: “I don't know if he has a gun, I don't know what he has, but they are hiding.”

According to the attorney general's office, investigators “concluded that the evidence does not demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the subject officer acted without the intent to defend himself or others from what he he reasonably believed to be imminent death or serious bodily injury. there is not enough evidence to support a criminal case against the officer. Therefore, no further action will be taken in this matter.

The Attorney General's Office recommended that the LAPD consider making changes to “improve lines of communication in response to 'immediate action and rapid deployment' scenarios.”

At the news conference with their lawyers days after the shooting, Valentina's parents said their daughter had arrived in Los Angeles from Chile about six months earlier and dreamed of becoming an engineer, a U.S. citizen and going to see a Los Angeles Lakers game with his father. .

“She wanted to be here in the United States because it was a country of opportunity and she was excited about that,” said lawyer Erica Contreras, translating for Valentina's father, Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas.

“The only thing left for him now is to seek justice for his daughter. He will not rest until justice is served for his daughter,” Contreras added.

Valentina attended High Tech Los Angeles Charter School, where she had just passed her math and physics exams.

The family then sued the city.

The city Police Commission ruled in 2022 that the officer violated department policy in the shooting. The committee determined that the first shot he fired was within policy, but the second and third were not. Then-Chief Michel Moore determined that Jones “inaccurately assessed” the threat posed by the suspect, saying he should have been able to verify that he was not dealing with a shooter active.

The shooting sparked a series of protests denouncing police shootings, and activists called for the arrest and prosecution of the officer involved. City Councilor Paul Krekorian called the teenager's death an “indescribable and horrible tragedy.”

Copyright 2024 by City News Service, Inc. All rights reserved.




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