The LAPD is facing harsh criticism after they killed a 14-year-old girl inside a Burlington Store dressing room in North Hollywood.
The girl, later identified as Valentina Orellana-Peralta, was trying on dresses in the store’s dressing room when she was struck and killed by a stray bullet that passed through drywall while police were responding to 911 calls about an assault happening inside the store.
Body camera footage of the incident was released online on Monday, showing police firing at 24-year-old suspect Daniel Elena Lopez, who was also killed by police. The graphic video footage of the attack shows Lopez attacking customers with a bike lock, leaving one woman bloodied and injured.
The officer that fired the fatal shot was put on administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing.
Valentina’s Mother: ‘She Died In My Arms’
Her mother, Soldead Peralta, and father, Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas, have hired an attorney as they seek answers from the LAPD. They held a press conference on Tuesday, December 28; their first public statement since the death of their daughter went public.
Civil Rights Advocate and attorney Ben Crump was one of the family’s attorneys who was present at the press conference held outside the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. Crump had previously represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, and other families who had lost loved ones due to excessive police use of force.
“At only 14-years-old, Valentina was our young daughter,” her mother said while speaking through a translator. “She was full of joy and she had big dreams for her future. She had a lot of life to live. We were together at Burlington in North Hollywood. We were trying on clothes for Christmas. We heard some screams. We sat down and hugged and started praying. When something impacted my daughter Valentina, it threw us on the floor and she died in my arms and there was nothing I could do.”
“To see a son or daughter die in your arms is one of the greatest pains and one of the most profound pains that any human being could imagine,” she continued. “Valentina meant the world to us, to her family, to her friends, and to her schoolmates. And now our sweet angel has left. Forever.”
Valentina’s Father Holds Up Christmas Present For Deceased Daughter
“I don’t have words to describe the sense of pain I am feeling right now,” her father said. “Especially during these special dates, when my daughter had asked me for so many gifts that I didn’t get to open with her, instead I will give them to her at her gravesite.”
One Christmas present, a skateboard that his daughter had ordered online, arrived the day that she was killed.
“We will now leave it at her grave, so she can skateboard with the angels,” he said.
Crump sent a letter to the LAPD asking them to preserve evidence and stated that the police response should have prevented Valentina from “being collateral damage.”
“Never should this 14-year-old little girl have ended up as collateral damage at a shopping plaza,” he said. “They came to America from Chile to get away from violence and injustice to have a better life in America.”
Valentina’s mother sobbed as she said, “Valentina, give us strength to get justice.”