Los Angeles police kill girl, 14, when firing at suspect in clothing store | Los Angeles

The Los Angeles county coroner has identified the 14-year-old girl who was shot and killed by police on Thursday while in the dressing rooms of a department store in North Hollywood.

Valentina Orellana-Peralta died after being hit by a bullet which went through the wall of the dressing room at the Burlington Coat Factory store, as police officers responded to a call about an assault.

The officer involved was put on paid leave while the Los Angeles police department prepared to release video evidence and radio calls from an encounter that reportedly happened around 11.45am.

Officers reportedly found the suspect in the alleged assault, Daniel Elena Lopez, and fired, killing the 24-year-old. They then discovered a bullet hole in the dressing room wall. The room was “directly behind the suspect and out of the officers’ view”, police said.

The assistant Los Angeles police chief, Dominic Choi, told reporters officers found Valentina in the dressing room, shot in the chest. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the girl had been shopping with her mother for a dress for a quinceañera – a 15th-birthday celebration.

Choi said that when police entered the store they thought the suspect was armed. No firearm was found on or near him, though officers retrieved a “very heavy lock” which police believe was involved in the assault that left a woman injured.

The Los Angeles police chief, Michel Moore, said in a statement he was “profoundly sorry for the loss of this young girl’s life” and added: “I know there are no words that can relieve the unimaginable pain for the family.”

Los Angeles police, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “crisis response team” and a city council member, Monica Rodriguez, were assisting the family, police said.

Under California law, a state justice department investigation is required when an “unarmed civilian” is shot and killed by a police officer.

An LAPD spokesman said paid leave for the officer who fired at the department store was “consistent with department protocols”. The officer would be required to undergo psychological evaluation and review by the chief before returning to duty, the spokesman said.

An LAPD directive issued in 2020 requires officers to consider “surroundings, background and potential risk to bystanders to the extent reasonable” before firing.

Domingo García, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said in a statement: “It is indefensible that trained Los Angeles police officers could open fire in a crowded store at the height of Christmas shopping without first knowing for sure if the suspect was armed.”

Some saw parallels to the 2018 death of Melyda Corado, 27, who was shot and killed while working as an assistant manager at Trader Joe’s in Los Angeles, when officers exchanged gunfire with a shooting suspect.

García noted that the Thursday shooting happened in San Fernando Valley, a heavily Latino section of Los Angeles.

“We will not allow open season on Latinos by LAPD,” he said.

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