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LA police post store shooting video in which officer's bullet killed teen bystander


In Los Angeles, the police department has released body camera video of a shooting at a clothing store last week. A 14-year-old died inside a fitting room after an officer opened fire. Here's Frank Stoltze of our member station KPCC.

FRANK STOLTZE, BYLINE: LAPD officers rushed to the store after 911 callers described a man attacking customers. A store employee on one 911 tape can be heard warning people.


UNIDENTIFIED EMPLOYEE: Evacuate the building. Everybody, evacuate the building.

UNIDENTIFIED OPERATOR: 911, what's the emergency?

STOLTZE: Another caller said the assailant had fired a gun. Security video shows 24-year-old Daniel Elena Lopez beating one woman with a heavy-duty bike lock and dragging her down an aisle. Police body camera audio and video shows one officer, armed with an assault rifle, saying he sees blood and running toward a victim. Another officer urges him to slow down.


UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER #1: Slow down, slow down, slow down.

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER #2: She's bleeding. She's bleeding.


STOLTZE: About two seconds later, the officer with the rifle reaches the woman and, without warning, fires three shots at Elena Lopez at the opposite end of the aisle. Elena Lopez was holding the bike lock but had no gun. He died at the scene. Then screams from the mother of 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta. Her daughter had been struck and killed by a bullet that went through a wall of the fitting room where they had been hiding. Soledad Peralta spoke at a news conference outside police headquarters.


SOLEDAD PERALTA: (Speaking Spanish).

STOLTZE: Peralta said her daughter died in her arms and that she couldn't do anything.

One of the questions surrounding the shooting is whether the officer should have fired his rifle into an area where bystanders could be hurt. The officer has not been named. LAPD spokesman Captain Stacy Spell calls this a tragic event.


STACY SPELL: We at the LAPD would like to express our most heartfelt condolences and profound regret for the loss of this innocent victim.

STOLTZE: The LAPD promised a full investigation, as did California's attorney general. A new state law requires the attorney general to investigate all police shootings of unarmed people. Attorney Ben Crump, who represented the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin, now represents Soledad Peralta, the mother of the girl who was killed. He told reporters innocent life should not be sacrificed in the name of public safety. The LAPD has shot 38 people so far this year. That's up from 27 people shot last year but significantly lower than in past decades.

For NPR News, I'm Frank Stoltze in Los Angeles.

(SOUNDBITE OF SOULAR ORDER'S "INTERMISSION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Frank Stoltze