LOS ANGELES (AP) – A 14-year-old girl who died after a Los Angeles police officer shot a suspect in a clothing store and the bullet pierced a wall was discovered on Monday as a happy teenager with many friends who loved sports, remember animals and did excel in school.
Valentina Orellana-Peralta’s body was on display in a pink dress in a flower-covered coffin alongside large photos of the girl during a funeral in the City of Refuge, United Church of Christ in Gardena, near Los Angeles.
The teen’s father, Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas, said he and her mother would never get over the terrible loss of Valentina.
“As parents, we ask ourselves, is it only for our daughter to die this way? It’s an answer we’ll never get, ”he said.
Orellana-Peralta died in the arms of her mother Soledad Peralta on December 23rd in a Burlington store in the North Hollywood neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley. Police shot a suspect who behaved erratically and brutally attacked two women.
One of the police bullets penetrated a dry stone wall behind the man and killed the girl who was hiding in a locker room with her mother, the police said.
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“We pray for peace and justice for this innocent blood that has been shed,” said Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the girl’s family. An emotional crump led the mourners to a chant of “Valentina is innocent!” during the Monday service.
The laudatory speech was given by civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, who recalled coming to Los Angeles three decades ago to protest the police beatings on Rodney King.
“How long will it take you to get it right?” Sharpton asked, turning to the LAPD. Calling the shooting inconsiderate, he said the girl’s death was “not just a tragedy but a travesty”.
Orellana-Peralta was looking forward to becoming an American citizen and was hoping to play a Los Angeles Lakers game with her father. She was a huge fan of Lakers star Lebron James.
“That could have been my daughter. That could have been your daughter, ”said Sharpton.
The girl’s mother said last month that the family left Chile to escape violence and injustice in search of a better life in the United States. The ceremony on Monday was translated in real time by a Spanish interpreter.
Her father said the teenager was passionate about skateboarding and dreamed of becoming an engineer to build robots. He said she had good grades even though English was her second language and she had only been in the US for about six months.
The shooting is the subject of an internal investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department. The California Department of Justice is also investigating.
“We at the LAPD would like to express our sincere condolences and deepest regrets for the loss of this innocent victim, Valentina Orellana-Peralta. There are no words that can describe the depth of sadness we feel at this tragic outcome, ”Police Chief Stacy Spell said in December.