Police commission rules officer broke policy in fatal department store shooting

The Los Angeles police officer who accidentally killed a teenage girl while shooting at an assailant in a North Hollywood Department story late last year was entitled to fire his gun once but continued firing improperly, the city’s Police Commission ruled on Tuesday.

In its conclusion, a split commission broke with LAPD Chief Michel Moore, who recommended the commission that Officer William Dorsey Jones Jr.’s decision to shoot was unreasonable and violated the LAPD’s deadly force policy.

The verdicts ended an extraordinarily tragic episode in which a bullet fired by Jones at a Burlington Coat Factory store missed its target, killing 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta, her mother hiding with her in a dressing room. Valentina’s death sparked a wave of grief from Los Angeles to her native country of Chile, prompting LA Mayor Eric Garcetti to promise her mother that the city would provide “transparency and justice” around the events leading up to her death led to put together.

In a report to the commission summarizing the findings of a full internal investigation into the Dec. 23 incident, Moore wrote that he believed another officer in Jones’ shoes did not think that deadly force was “proportionate, objectively reasonable, or necessary.” ” be.

However, in a 3-2 vote in closed session, the commission disagreed with Moore, concluding that the first of three shots Jones fired from a rifle violated the Department’s rules on the use of force corresponded.

All but one commissioner voted to accept Moore’s recommendation that the second and third shots were contrary to department policy.

Moore’s report did not specify which of Jones’ shots hit Valentina, and it is unknown if LAPD investigators determined this.

The commission also ruled that the tactics used by five officers and a supervising sergeant in confronting the assailant were inappropriate.

It is not known which of the officials’ tactics the commission found to be flawed, as the panel did not name any officials when it announced its findings. However, Moore’s report included the officers’ names. In it, the chief noted that Jones’ tactics were flawed in part because he had not learned from other officers at the scene that the suspect was not armed with a gun, as had been reported by an 911 caller.

It is now up to Moore to decide whether and how to punish Jones and the other officers.

The attacker, Daniel Elena-Lopez, had been attacking customers at the department store with a bicycle lock and was holding the lock when Jones fatally shot him. Video of the shooting showed Jones rushing past other officers as they searched for Elena-Lopez and came upon a critically injured woman in a hallway. When Jones saw Elena-Lopez down the aisle, he fired off three shots in quick succession.

Jones told department investigators he believes he only fired twice because he thought Elena-Lopez raised his arm with what the officer thought was a gun. The department’s investigation found that Jones had actually fired three shots from about 16 feet away.

In the same interview, he said he overheard his colleagues telling him to slow down before the shooting, but then he saw the woman who had attacked Elena-Lopez and rushed to her, believing she had been shot been.

Jones told investigators he believed the wall behind Elena-Lopez was an outer brick wall that would stop any stray bullets. In fact, behind the thin drywall there were dressing rooms, and one of the bullets bounced off the floor, penetrating the wall and hitting Valentina. According to Moore’s account, she died within minutes.

Moore also criticized the tactics of Sgt. Jerald Case, one of the first responders at the scene. As the senior officer, the chief wrote in his report, Case should have taken a more active role, leading the other officers into the store to confront Elena-Lopez.

The incident reignited calls for major changes to the city’s policing system, with many critics calling for a criminal charge against Jones. Some critics said Tuesday’s ruling sent the wrong message.

According to Los Executive Director Pete White, the commission’s decision was “really about trying to split the difference” in an encounter where the actions of the police were unjustifiable. Angeles Community Action Network.

“I don’t think any shot was fired that could be considered justified,” White said.

An autopsy revealed that Elena-Lopez was using methamphetamine at the time of his shooting. He had been the subject of several emergency calls earlier in the day. The report sheds light on the chaotic scene that later unfolded at the Burlington store, where employees and customers called 911 for help. At least one of the calls reported that a man shot inside the store.

Earlier this summer, Valentina’s parents filed a lawsuit against the city, Jones, the LAPD, and Burlington Stores Inc.

In their lawsuit, Soledad Peralta and Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas accused the LAPD of not “properly training and supervising” the officers who confronted Elena-Lopez at the department store.

“More importantly, there was and continues to be a custom, policy and practice within the Los Angeles Police Department … that fostered an environment that permitted and permitted this shooting,” the lawsuit states.

Elena-Lopez’s family has filed its own wrongful death lawsuit against the department, claiming that the 24-year-old was no longer a threat to public safety by the time police arrived.

The case remains under investigation by the California Attorney General and the Inspector General of the Police Commission.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-11-23/lapd-panel-rules-officer-broke-police-in-burlington-police-shooting-that-killed-girl-14 Police commission rules officer broke policy in fatal department store shooting

Alley Einstein

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