LOS ANGELES – Family and friends gathered Monday not only to mourn the loss of a 14-year-old girl shot to death by a The stray bullet of a Los Angeles police officer inside a Burlington department store, but also to promise to fight to prevent such a tragedy.
Valentina Orellana Peralta died two days before Christmas while shopping with her mother in a dressing room. The couple had been shopping for a new dress for the holidays.
Valentina was murdered after Los Angeles Police Department Officer William Jones opened fire on a man who had assaulted several women inside the store and struck a victim with a bicycle lock. One of the officer’s bullets went through a wall behind the suspect and hit Valentina.
the teenager died in the arms of his mother on the floor of the dressing room.
Jones has been placed on administrative leave while a variety of agencies investigate the shooting. Audio and video released by the Los Angeles Police Department show that the other responding officers told him to slow down more than a dozen times and did not give the suspect any orders before opening fire. The suspect, Daniel Elena López, 24, was also killed in the shooting.
The family’s attorneys, Ben Crump and Rahul Ravipudi, told mourners in English and Spanish at the service held at City of Refuge Church in Gardena, California, just south of Los Angeles, that Valentina’s death would not be in vain. They promised justice for her and other immigrants who come to the United States in search of a better and more secure future.
“We pray for peace and justice, for this innocent blood shed,” Crump told the crowd before leading them in a chant of “Valentina is innocent.”
“The innocent blood of Valentina will not leave the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department while they try to justify these unjustifiable actions, “he added.
Valentina moved to the US from her native Chile about six months before her death. She was excited about passing her math and physics exams and dreamed of becoming an engineer.
When the service began, the mourners said goodbye to the teenager. A bouquet of pink and purple flowers rested on her partially open casket. Two large photos of her, along with multiple flower arrangements, flanked the small casket. A Spanish version of How Great Thou Art was played as the teenager’s parents tearfully leaned over the coffin and tried to hold their daughter once more.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who delivered eulogy in both languages, told the crowd about his decades of fighting for reform at the Los Angeles Police Department after Rodney King was beaten up by officers, an event that led to deadly riots. in 1992.
“Throughout those 31 years, we keep seeing LAPD wrong. And here we are again. How long will it take to get it right?” Sharpton asked.
The prominent civil rights leader raised the issue of race in the shooting and acknowledged that the officer who killed Valentina was black.
“The circumstance of nationality and race is important. It is important because we must make it clear that we are not only fighting for ours because we are all ours, whether you are from South Central, Harlem or Chile,” said Sharpton. saying. “Justice should be justice no matter who it is and who is involved. I don’t feel better if a black cop shoots me.”
Valentina’s family, most of whom wore T-shirts and sweatshirts with her face and demanded justice for her, spoke of the teenager’s ambition and the love she had for animals and the Los Angeles Lakers. He wanted to study engineering and build robots, including one that could help his mother clean the house. Her father recalled her exceptional work overcoming language barriers, learning English in the six months she was in the US and her biggest dream: becoming a US citizen.
“He had many dreams and aspirations, like any teenager,” said his father, Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas. “She always told us that this country was the safest in the world. Unfortunately, she only came to this country to face her death. ”
She added that the pain of not having her daughter is something “we will never get over.”
“They have destroyed us as a family, as parents,” Larenas said. But, she said, she has given her life a new purpose: to fight for justice for her daughter and to make sure this never happens again.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism