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Suspect Was Unarmed When L.A. Police Killed Teen in Store

The girl killed by a Los Angeles police officer in a dressing room Thursday was identified as 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta as the Los Angeles Police Department put the officer on paid leave and prepared to release video evidence and radio calls from the shooting. Officers responded to reports of an assault at a Burlington department store, where they found a suspect and fired at him, said assistant police chief Dominic Choi. The suspect, Daniel Elena Lopez, 24, was killed by police, the Washington Post reports. After the shooting, authorities found a hole in a wall, and behind it, found Valentina in the dressing room. Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said he was “profoundly sorry for the loss of this young girl’s life." The California Justice Department is investigating the shooting, the attorney general’s office said, as is required under California law when a police officer shoots and kills an unarmed civilian. The LAPD’s “Use of Force-Tactics Directive” says officers should “consider their surroundings, background, and potential risk to bystanders to the extent reasonable” before firing. The dressing room was behind a wall “directly behind the suspect and out of the officers’ view,” the police said. When police entered the store, they had thought the suspect was armed, though no firearm was found on or near him, Choi said. Officers found a “very heavy lock” near the suspect, which the police believe was involved in the assault that left a woman injured. Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said “it is indefensible that trained ... police officers could open fire in a crowded store at the height of Christmas shopping without first knowing for sure if the suspect was armed.” LULAC noted that the shooting happened in the heavily Latino San Fernando Valley. “We will not allow open season on Latinos by LAPD,” Garcia said.

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