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DOJ investigation says no criminal charges in LAPD shooting death of 14-year-old bystander

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CBS News Los Angeles Live

The state Attorney General's Office said Wednesday that criminal charges will not be filed in the 2021 death of 14-year-old Valentina Orellana Peralta who was struck and killed by a stray bullet fired by an Los Angeles Police Department officer.

After a Department of Justice investigation, its report concluded that criminal charges were not appropriate in this case.

"This case was a particularly challenging one to process as this involved the loss of two lives," said Attorney General Rob Bonta. "Any loss of life is a tragedy, and my heart goes out especially to the family of Valentina Orellana Peralta, who tragically lost her life and whose only involvement in this incident was by being at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Orellana-Peralta was in one of the dressing rooms at a North Hollywood Burlington store on December 23, when a stray bullet that was fired towards an assault suspect passed through the wall and struck her. She was with her mother, trying on dresses for her quinceañera.

A police report filed by the LAPD said that the assault suspect was approached by security within the Burlington store when he began to exhibit unruly behavior, including attacking another customer and breaking a store window using a heavy-duty bike lock.

Police responded to a call of gunshots, and approached the suspect as he was attacking a customer. This is when an officer fired.

The suspect was shot in the chest, and died at the scene. He was later identified as 24-year-old Daniel Elena Lopez.

The DOJ's investigation report also included the death of Lopez, which the department also determined criminal charges were not appropriate.

Then LAPD Chief Michel Moore called for the immediate release of body cam video, store surveillance footage and recordings of all 911 calls concerning the incident, a process that normally takes 45 days. He called the incident chaotic, tragic and devastating.

Days after the shooting, Orellana-Peralta's family held a news conference with attorneys, demanding transparency. Her mother, Soledad Peralta recounted being with her daughter at the time of the shooting saying while in the dressing room, she and Valentina heard a commotion before hugging each other and praying for peace and safety.

"All of a sudden we felt an explosion that pulled us both to the ground...I had no idea she had been shot. Her body went limp. I tried shaking her but her body went limp," Peralta said.

Law requires that any deadly shooting at the hands of an officer, intentional or not, must be investigated by the state's Attorney General.

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