Protesters want charges against LAPD officer who killed Valentina Orellana Peralta
Officer William Jones Jr. fired three rounds at a suspect in a department store, and one went through a dressing room wall and hit Peralta in the chest.
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Protesters are demanding justice for Valentina Orellana Peralta, a 14-year-old girl who was in a dressing room when she was fatally shot by LAPD Officer William Jones Jr.
Peralta, a Chilean immigrant, was killed on Dec. 23, while shopping with her mom at a Burlington clothing store in North Hollywood, California. According to officials, she was in a dressing room when Jones opened fire on an assault with a deadly weapon suspect in the store.
Police said that the wall of the dressing room was behind the suspect and Peralta was not in view of officers when the shooting occurred.
The suspect, Daniel Elena Lopez, did not have a gun at the scene, according to officials. He had a metal bike lock that was allegedly used to assault a woman and break glass.
According to audio released by the LAPD, several 911 callers told dispatchers that they suspected Lopez had a gun.
The LAPD has published 911 calls, radio transmissions, body camera footage and surveillance video from the incident. The department's policy is to release video of incidents like police shootings within 45 days, but the footage was published just five days after the incident.
Demonstrators, some of whom have experienced police brutality within their own families, are calling for criminal charges against Jones.
“We cannot allow for these things to go unresolved,” Chloë Cheyenne, activist and CEO of the social justice media app COMMUNITYx, told ABC News.
While some protesters are calling for Jones’s arrest, others believe that justice should come through police reform and a reimagining of what policing in the U.S. should look like.
“I think that to not have a conversation about policing and its actual function in our society, I think that would be wrongheaded,” said Albert Corado from the local activist group, the People’s City Council.
Corado also said that police violence is all too common in L.A., and his sister was killed in an incident that is similar to Peralta’s.
LAPD killings were up 160% in 2021. This is the real rise in crime.— People's City Council - Los Angeles (@PplsCityCouncil) January 5, 2022
Folks can donate to Valentina’s family here: https://t.co/JJdqGghjQf #JusticeForValentina #LAPDkills https://t.co/a2klt6ucLa pic.twitter.com/ASNgpIBqBN
According to the Los Angeles Times, the LAPD have killed about 951 people since 2000 — about four people each month, over the last 22 years.
“I'm hoping that people now take the outrage they're feeling and actually transform this,” Corado told ABC News.
In a statement released on Dec. 27, LAPD Chief Michel R. Moore expressed his condolences for the loss of Peralta’s life and pledged to conduct an in-depth investigation.
"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,” Moore said.
Per state law, the California attorney general will be independently investigating and reviewing the officer-involved shooting.
Tom Saggau, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Protective League, told NBC News Jones had completed mass casualty active shooter training about two weeks before the shooting.
Saggau said Jones founded a nonprofit called Officers for Change, which raises money to give students backpacks and school supplies.
“He is just devastated. A lot of the kids that he worked with in his nonprofit were Valentina’s age. What he’s struggling with is that it could have been any one of the kids that he worked with,” Saggau said.
Jones is now on paid administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.
"To see a son or daughter die in your arms is one of ... the greatest pains and most profound pains that any human being can imagine," Peralta's mother, Soledad Peralta, said. "Now, our sweet angel has left us forever. Please give us strength, Valentina."
Valentina’s father showing a skateboard that arrived for his daughter on December 24, the day after she died. He says he will now leave the skateboard at her grave. pic.twitter.com/5ZlFZFgrjX— Sam Levin (@SamTLevin) December 28, 2021
The Peralta family is being represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has also represented the families of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and more.