A police raid of a Los Angeles clothing store on December 23 left a 14-year-old girl dead after she was accidentally struck by an officer's stray bullet. Authorities noted that police opened fire on a suspect, 24-year-old Daniel Elena-Lopez, in the clothing store where the 14-year-old girl, Valentina Orellana-Peralta, was shopping for a quinceaÃ±era dress. The suspect also died in the violent encounter. While aiming for the suspect, an officer's stray bullet hit Valentina, who was hiding in a dressing room at the North Hollywood Burlington Coat Factory with her mother.
According to the DailyMail, Valentina's Chilean parents called for justice for their dead daughter outside the LAPD headquarters on Tuesday. They were joined by Civil rights attorney Ben Crump in their campaign. Crump read a translated statement by Valentina's mother that said that she was hiding inside the dressing room of the clothing store when police opened the fire. A stray bullet hit Valentina in the chest and she died in her mother's arms.
"She died in my arms. I couldn't do anything. Having a child die in your arms is one of the most painful things you can imagine," Valentina's mother, Soledad Peralta said.
'My daughter is dead at the hands of the state'
Valentina's parents, Soledad Peralta and Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas, noted they had left their homeland of Chile because of violence and had settled in the US in the hopes of a better life. Valentina's father, Juan said that all she wanted was to be an American citizen. "I once told her, let's leave this country [US]. 'No, papa,' she said. 'This is the safest country in the world, a country of opportunity.' Now my daughter is dead at the hands of the state," Juan said.
'Valentina loved skateboarding and wanted to become an engineer'
Juan further informed that he was in Chile for the holidays when he received the news of his daughter's death and his world came collapsing on him. The family noted that Valentina loved skateboarding and aspired to become an engineer to build robots.
The Attorneys representing Valentina's family demanded during a press conference that the officer whose bullet hit her be held accountable for her death. They also demanded that LAPD release the video footage of the crime scene. The press conference comes the day after the LAPD released heavily edited surveillance footage showing Valentina's final moments.
In the surveillance footage of the clothing store, 11 policemen could be seen storming through the doors of the store, responding to a 911 call reporting the suspect, Daniel Elena-Lopez, who was accused of assaulting two women.