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Teen girl hiding in LA dressing room shot by police


Valentina Orellana-Peralta and her mother were holding one another and praying in the dressing room of a Los Angeles clothing store when a police officer’s bullet ripped through a wall and fatally wounded the 14-year-old, according to relatives.

“The girl’s American dream has been taken from her,” Valentina’s uncle, Rodrigo Orellana, told CNN affiliate Chilevision from their native Chile this week.

“Everyone fled to to dressing rooms and, unfortunately, the bullet found her,” he said.

Valentina Orellana-Peralta shooting police bodycam
Confronting police bodycam footage shows the moments leading up to Valentina’s death. (LAPD)

“They’re supposed to be the best police department in the world and they shot her.”

Mr Orellana was referring to the the Los Angeles Police Department, which on Monday released edited surveillance camera footage and police body camera videos showing the events that led to the shooting death of the teen by an officer firing at a suspect last Thursday.

The video shows a 24-year-old suspect identified as Daniel Elena-Lopez entering the Burlington Coat Factory store in North Hollywood with his bike and wearing a tank top and shorts. He takes the escalator upstairs with his bike.

Moments later, he returns to the escalators wearing a multicoloured jacket and long pants before swinging his bike lock at customers, according to police. He is seen attacking several female customers.

Several body camera videos released by police show a woman on the floor covered in blood as officers arrive and attempt to find the suspect, who, according to a police statement on Friday, was a short distance away.

Valentina Orellana-Peralta
Witnesses say Valentina was shopping for a quinceañera dress with her mother when she was killed. (Orellana-Peralta family)

An officer can be heard on the body camera footage firing three bullets toward the suspect, who later falls to the ground. Video shows the officer firing a rifle at the suspect.

Valentina was in a dressing room with her mother when a bullet aimed at the suspect passed through the wall, fatally striking the teenager. She was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest, coroner records show.

Police Captain Stacy Spell said the investigation is in its early stages. The incident will also be reviewed by representatives from the California Department of Justice, the state Attorney General’s Office and the Office of the Inspector General, according to Captain Spell.

Anthony Barksdale, a CNN law enforcement analyst and former Baltimore deputy police commissioner, said the video raises questions.

“Was the use of the patrol rifle justified?” he asked Monday night on CNN. “And … if you’re going to fire a (.223) round inside of a department store, those rounds can easily rip through a body and keep right on moving through dry wall. So the use of force must be looked at.”

Mr Barksdale said that the suspect did not appear to be moving toward a victim or an officer when he was shot.

The police department released three 911 calls and radio transmissions of the shooting.

Police were called to the scene following numerous reports of an assault with a deadly weapon and a possible shooting in progress at the store.

Valentina’s parents want action taken against the police for the death of their daughter. (AP)

One call is from a store employee who tells the operator that there’s an “hostile customer in my store attacking customers” and “breaking things.”

While she is on the phone with the operator, she is also repeatedly heard yelling at people to evacuate the store. She explains to the operator that the suspect is using a bike lock to attack people.

The suspect died at the scene. A steel or metal cable lock was found near his body, officials said. No firearm was recovered from the scene.

The assault victim was transported to a hospital with head and arm injuries. Police do not believe the woman knew the suspect.

An LAPD official familiar with the investigation told CNN’s Paul Vercammen they were “aware of reports that a witness said the girl was trying on a quinceañera dress with her mother. We are looking into this as part of our investigation.”

Valentina Orellana-Peralta’s death has garnered international attention as police actions are investigated. (AP)

The officer who fired the fatal shots is on “paid administrative leave, per department protocols for officer involved shootings, for at least two weeks,” the official told CNN.

Valentina’s parents are set to hold a news conference demanding transparency from police, while their attorneys are expected to discuss developments in the case.

Valentina’s grandmother, Veronica Larenas, told Chilevision that the teen had been adapting well to life in the United States.

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“She was learning English. She was happy. They loved her at school,” Ms Larenas said.

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