The Los Angeles County medical examiner recently identified the 14-year-old girl who was fatally shot by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers while she was inside a Burlington dressing room.
Around 11:45 a.m. on December 23, 2021, LAPD officers responded to an assault in progress at a Burlington store in North Hollywood. While searching for the suspect, the officers located a female who was suffering from various injuries and bleeding.
“I was with other customers trying to take them to the exit, and the suspect was waiting downstairs,” a Burlington employee told CBSLA. “The customer in front of me, he attacked her and hit her with a bike chain.”
According to an LAPD press release, the officers encountered the suspect a short distance away and an officer-involved shooting occurred. The suspect was struck by gunfire and pronounced dead at the scene.
After the officer-involved shooting, police discovered a 14-year-old girl named Valentina Orellana-Peralta who was in a changing room with her mother behind the wall. The innocent teenager was fatally shot in the chest by a bullet fired from an LAPD officer.
LAPD Assistant Chief Dominic Choi confirmed, “Preliminarily, we believe that round was an officer’s round.”
Choi also admitted that the suspect was not armed with a gun. Instead, officers found a “steel or metal cable lock, a very heavy lock,” near the suspect that may have been used in the assault.
“We did not find a gun,” Choi said. “However, until the coroner gets here and we do a full search of the suspect, that won’t be definitive. But right now we haven’t located a firearm.”
On Thursday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the California Department of Justice is investigating and will independently review the officer-involved shooting. Once the investigation has been completed, it will be turned over to the California Department of Justice’s Special Prosecutions Section within the Criminal Law Division for independent review.
On Friday, LAPD Police Chief Michel R. Moore released the following statement: “This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child is tragic and devastating for everyone involved. I am profoundly sorry for the loss of this young girl’s life and I know there are no words that can relieve the unimaginable pain for the family. My commitment is to conduct a thorough, complete and transparent investigation into the circumstances that led up to this tragedy and provide the family and public with as much information as possible.”