No charges for LAPD officer in Burlington store shooting – NBC Los Angeles

What to Know

  • California Attorney General Rob Bonta says an LAPD officer won’t face criminal charges in the December 2021 deadly shooting inside a North Hollywood Burlington store.
  • Valentina Orellana-Peralta, 14, was in a store dressing room when she was struck by a round fired by the officer that ricocheted off the floor and through a wall.
  • Police were attempting to capture an assault suspect who attacked several people before running into the store.

California prosecutors will not pursue criminal charges against a Los Angeles Police Department office in the deadly shooting of a teen girl who was struck by gunfire inside a changing room at a Burlington store in North Hollywood.

Valentina Orellana-Peralta, 14, was killed Dec. 23, 2021, when she was shopping with her mother at the Victory Boulevard store. Valentina was trying on holiday dresses in a changing room when a bullet fired at an assault suspect by the officer ricocheted off the floor, went through a dressing room wall and struck the teen.

On Wednesday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, whose office has been investigating the case as required by state law, released a final report and said his office will not seek criminal charges against the officer.

“This case was a particularly challenging one to process as this involved the loss of two lives,” Bonta said in a statement. “Any loss of life is a tragedy, and my heart goes out especially to the family of Valentina Orellana Peralta, who tragically lost her life and whose only involvement in this incident was by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The California Department of Justice remains steadfast in our commitment to working together with all law enforcement partners to ensure an unbiased, transparent, and accountable legal system for every resident of California.”

Shots were fired inside the store after a 24-year-old man armed with a metal bike lock and sought in a series of nearby assaults entered the business. The officer fired a round at the man that ricocheted off the floor and through a far wall, entering the dressing room where it struck Valentina.

She died in her mother’s arms.

Police released body-camera video of the encounter inside the store. That footage included images showing the suspect attacking a woman, beating her with the bike lock as officers arrived.

Activists were asking if there was a way for officers to de-escalate without opening fire, while the LAPD released shocking video that showed the suspect beating a woman before officers shot him. Angie Crouch reports Dec. 27, 2021.

The video also captured the sound of police gunfire as officers found the suspect, still with the cable lock in his hand.
The injured suspect was taken into custody and died at the scene.

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

No gun was found at the scene.

Another caller reported that her mother was hiding inside the store because of a man making threats. She added, “I don’t know if he has a gun, I don’t know what he has, but they’re hiding.”

In a statement, Los Angeles police said officers did not know the dressing room was occupied. Valentina was found after the shooting during a search for additional attackers.

According to Bonta’s office, investigators “concluded that the evidence does not show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer involved acted without the intent defend himself and others from what he reasonably believed to be imminent death or serious bodily injury. Therefore, there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution of the officer. As such, no further action will be taken in this case.”

The office recommended that the LAPD consider making changes to “improve lines of communication in response to ‘immediate action and rapid deployment’ scenarios.”

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

The family later sued the city.

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

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