Shooting tactics will be examined after the murder of a girl by the LAPD
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Thursday he had promised “transparency and justice” to the mother of Valentina Orellana-Peralta, the 14-year-old girl who was shot dead by a Los Angeles police officer in a North Hollywood store. two days before Christmas.
Speaking to reporters at a downtown fire station, Garcetti and Police Chief Michel Moore called the murder “unimaginable.” They said three investigations into the shooting went beyond the conduct of Officer William Dorsey Jones Jr. to also examine the Los Angeles Police Department’s policies, practices and standards regarding the use of force. murderous.
Jones fired three shots at a suspect holding a bicycle lock inside a Burlington clothing store, and one of the bullets penetrated the wall and hit the girl. Valentina died in her mother’s arms in a locker room. The suspect, later identified as Daniel Elena-Lopez, 24, was also killed.
“We will be taking an in-depth look at everything from the training to the tactics, to the policies and to the incident itself,” Garcetti said. “We deal with it continuously with maximum transparency, sensitivity and responsibility. This is something that we will need to get results that take into account what happened. I’ve learned not to prejudge these, but to make sure they’re transparent. “
The December 23 shooting sparked outrage and debate over the police response in tense and overcrowded situations. Elena-Lopez had assaulted customers with a bicycle lock and was holding the lock at the time of the shooting, according to Police Corps camera video of the incident. Officers had received inaccurate reports from an active shooter inside the store. It is not known if Jones knew Elena-Lopez did not have a gun.
The LAPD released a video last week that included surveillance and body camera footage and 911 calls. In it, Jones rushes past other police officers, one of whom is yelling, “Wait! Hold on! ”Jones then stands over a bloodied woman who had been attacked by Elena-Lopez as the abuser walks away to the opposite end of an alley.
Jones shoots three times, then the screams of Valentina’s mother from a nearby dressing room can be heard. The California Attorney General, the Inspector General of the Police Board, and the LAPD are all investigating the murder.
The LAPD shot dead at least 37 people in 2021, killing 18 of them, significantly more than they shot or killed in either of the past two years, according to LAPD data. .
Garcetti, who, aside from a brief comment to The Times and a statement to reporters who requested it, has remained mostly publicly silent about the shooting.
“I focused on the laser to try and make sure we wrap our arms around this family,” he said Thursday. “This horrible tragedy, as I spoke about the next day, there are no words that will bring Valentina back. The life of her mother, of her family, will never be the same again. As a father, father of ‘a girl is something that consumed me during the Christmas holidays. ”
“I know that for the officers who went to think they would save lives, the depth of suffering they too feel is unimaginable,” he continued. “But nothing is more serious than losing your daughter, losing a member of your family. I promised Valentina’s mother and family when I spoke with her two things: transparency and fairness.
The promises of transparency come after Ben Crump, a nationally recognized civil rights lawyer representing the family, called on the city to be more open.
“We want all the documentation, full transparency, not just a perspective trying to justify things,” Crump said last week. “We want everything to be released.”
After 911 calls arrived this Thursday morning, police were dispatched and by noon a small group of armed officers had dropped off the double escalator to the second floor of the store, where they encountered Elena-Lopez, and Jones quickly shot him down.
Officers used an approach that eventually defined police responses to “active shooter” situations in the 22 years since the Columbine High School shooting, which left 15 people dead in Colorado, including the two students responsible for the shooting. the attack.
In a mass shooting scenario, agents rushing to kill or arrest a shooter can reduce the potential death toll of a heavily armed assailant. But in cases like Burlington, where the suspect was found to have no weapon, the tactics raise serious questions.
Moore told reporters on Thursday: “We are not passing judgment on this, but everything is on the table for consideration, not just what happened and the judgment and decisions that were made, but our policies and procedures and what we have as a standard to try to protect people in a sometimes very violent society.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Protection League said Jones received mass casualty training just weeks before the Burlington shooting, and that the training in which he had taken the lead with a military-style rifle was part of the department’s approach to an active shooter.
Moore, like Garcetti, has repeatedly emphasized his empathy with Valentina’s family.
“It is a loss that cannot be measured,” he said. “As for the enormity, as professional policing we have sworn to protect and serve. There is no better circumstance than losing an innocent victim and losing a child as we try to help the people in this store at this time of crisis. It’s unimaginable. “
Moore said his shooting investigators gave Atty State. General Rob Bonta’s team has “full and unimpeded access to our investigation.”