California AG: No Criminal Charges for LAPD Officer in Teen Girl’s Deadly Shooting

Los Angeles, California – The California Attorney General, Rob Bonta, announced that no criminal charges will be filed against a Los Angeles Police Department officer involved in a tragic incident at a North Hollywood Burlington store. The incident resulted in the death of Valentina Orellana-Peralta, a 14-year-old girl who was fatally struck by a ricocheting gunshot fired by the officer while she was in a dressing room at the store.

The tragic event unfolded on December 23, 2021, when Valentina, shopping with her mother, was trying on holiday dresses in the dressing room. The officer fired a round at an assault suspect who had entered the store armed with a metal bike lock. The bullet ricocheted off the floor, penetrated a wall, and tragically struck Valentina, leading to her untimely death.

In a statement released by Attorney General Rob Bonta, he expressed the complexity of the case, acknowledging the loss of two lives and emphasizing the tragic circumstances surrounding Valentina’s death. The investigation carried out by Bonta’s office, as required by state law, concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support criminal charges against the officer.

The provided evidence did not demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer intended to harm Valentina or others, believing the situation posed an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death. Consequently, no further legal action will be pursued in this case.

The incident sparked a debate on police violence and appropriate use of force, with activists questioning whether there were alternative de-escalation methods available to the officers involved. The body-camera footage released by the LAPD depicted the suspect’s aggressive behavior towards a woman before being shot by officers.

The Police Commission’s ruling in 2022 determined that while the initial shot fired by the officer was within policy, subsequent shots violated departmental guidelines. The panel criticized the officer’s assessment of the threat posed by the suspect, suggesting that he should have recognized the situation did not involve an active shooter.

Valentina, a student at High Tech Los Angeles Charter School, had recently excelled in her math and physics exams. Subsequently, her family filed a lawsuit against the city, seeking justice for the tragic loss of their daughter.

Moving forward, recommendations have been made for the LAPD to enhance communication and decision-making processes during high-stress situations to prevent similar incidents in the future. The case serves as a somber reminder of the complexities and consequences of law enforcement actions in tense situations.