The parents of the girl killed last week in a clothing store fitting room by a stray bullet from a Los Angeles police officer called for justice Tuesday, the day after they the police released a video showing the chaotic moments that led up to the fatal shooting.
The 14-year-old girl Valentina Orellana-Peralta, died of an inadvertent gunshot in a North Hollywood store on December 23, when a police officer opened fire on a man who was beating up another shopper after boarding and threatening several more.
The suspect was killed, but police said one of the officer’s rifle bullets apparently drilled the wall of a fitting room where the girl was hiding, out of sight, with her mother, punching the teenager in the chest.
The girl, who was buying a dress, died instantly in her mother’s arms.
“It’s as if my whole heart had been ripped out of my body,” said his father, Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas, in a statement read by the family’s attorney, Ben Crump, during a press conference in front of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) headquarters. We want justice for our daughter. Valentina’s life mattered.
The parents wept along with a wreath of flowers and photographs of their Chilean-born daughter. They wore posters around their necks that read “justice for my daughter,” written in English and Spanish. The parents and their lawyers did not specify how they would like justice to be served.
Parents described their daughter as an exceptional student who aspired to become an engineer. “I had big dreams of becoming an American citizen. I wanted to be here in America because this was the land of opportunity, “Crump said.
A thorough and transparent investigation
Orellana-Peralta was born and raised in the Chilean capital, Santiago, and came to the United States six months ago with her mother to visit an older sister, the ‘Los Angeles Times’ reported. Her mother had been processing the documentation to stay in the United States with her daughter permanently.
Police Chief Michel Moore issued a statement promising a “thorough, complete and transparent” investigation. The California attorney general’s office has also opened an independent investigation.
The store security video posted Monday showed the erratic and threatening behavior of the suspect after entering the store with his bicycle, and the pandemonium that occurred when he started attacking customers with a heavy metal lock.
The police also released the recordings of the emergency calls to 911 from store employees and from others who reported that an armed suspect was assaulting customers, prompting an evacuation.
The audio and video recordings of the body cameras of several officers showed the last and violent moments of the incident, when the police arrived at the scene with their weapons drawn and approached the suspect, who was beating a woman.
The police officer closest to the suspect is heard yelling, “He’s bleeding, he’s bleeding,” just before turning a corner and facing the assailant, as the woman tries to crawl away.
The suspect, holding the bicycle lock and another large object in his hands, is seen standing with his back to the outside of the fitting room, several steps away from the bleeding victim, while the agent raises his rifle and shoots him three times.
The man, identified as Daniel Elena-López, 24 years old, died at the scene. The Los Angeles Times has reported that he had several prior felony convictions.
The 14-year-old girl was found shot to death shortly thereafter in the locker room as police searched the store for another victim, according to police. The woman hit with the padlock was taken to a local hospital and survived.
The officer who fired the shots has been placed on administrative leave pending investigation, police said.