Board finds that Los Angeles police officer ‘unjustified’ in shooting that killed 14-year-old girl

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles police officer was found to have violated policy when he fired a rifle at a suspect in a clothing store, which led to the death of a 14-year-old girl in a dressing room, last year, in a ruling by a civilian oversight board on Tuesday.

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According to The Associated Press, Los Angeles Police Officer William Dorsey Jones Jr. had fired his rifle three times when officers responded to a Burlington store in the San Fernando Valley in December 2021.

According to the AP, Valentina Orellana Peralta, 14, was shot and killed while she was in a dressing room with her mother. When Jones fired his weapon, one of the bullets hit Peralta.

The Police Commission reportedly ruled that Jones was justified for firing his rifle once but the two other shots were found to be “out of policy,” according to the AP. Chief Michael Moore in his own review found that all three shots were unjustified.

Jones could face disciplinary action or even possibly get fired now that the chief and civilian panel have shared their findings, according to the AP.

Officers were called to the store because a man was allegedly acting erratically and “wielding” a bicycle lock. He had allegedly attacked two women. One of the women fell on the floor and he reportedly dragged her by her feet around the store while she was trying to escape. The man was identified by the AP as Daniel Elena Lopez, 24.

According to the AP, LAPD officers walked through the store in a formation. Officers Jones had reportedly pushed to the front even though he was told by other officers to slow down.

According to video footage obtained by the AP, LAPD officers saw a woman crawling on the floor and Lopez in the other aisle. Another officer screamed “Hold up!” a couple of times and then Jones fired his rifle three times.

According to the AP, Jones reportedly told the LAPD’s Use of Force Review Board that he thought someone was in the store shooting people. He said he mistook a bike lock for a gun and saw the victim who was bleeding. Jones also reportedly told the board that he thought the wall behind the suspect was an exterior brick wall but turned out it was where the women’s dressing rooms were located.

One of the bullets had gone through the wall and hit Peralta, killing her, according to a lawsuit filed by her family obtained by the AP. This lawsuit claimed that the LAPD failed to train and supervise the responding officers.

Last month, Moore in his report to the board said that Jones was “hyper-focused on his belief that this was an active shooter scenario and may have failed to conduct an objective assessment when he arrived at the scene,” according to the AP.

It was also noted that Jones did not assess the circumstances correctly and did not reassess them after one shot was fired, according to the AP.

According to the AP, Jones also killed the suspect, Lopez, who according to an autopsy report, was using meth when he died.

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