Rev. Al Sharpton, Family of Valentina Orellana-Peralta Honor Her Life
- Valentina Orellana-Peralta was shot and killed by an LAPD officer on December 23.
- The 14-year-old moved to LA from Chile six months ago and was shot while shopping with her mother.
- Her family, alongside Rev. Al Sharpton, commemorated her life at a funeral on Monday.
In a casket adorned with pink, purple, and white roses, Valentina Orellana-Peralta was laid to rest wearing the dress she bought on the day she was killed by a Los Angeles Police Department officer’s stray AR-15 bullet.
On Monday, at the City of Refuge Church in Gardena, California, mourners were ushered into the funeral service for the slain 14-year old Chilean girl, which Insider also attended. As congregants found their seats, a keyboard player filled the room with rich and somber chords.
The Orellana-Peralta family sat in the middle of the room, clad in black hoodies and masks that said “Justice for Valentina.” They were joined by Attorney Ben Crump and Reverend Al Sharpton as they looked over Valentina’s open casket and held each other.
Ahead of the procession, Crump, Sharpton, and attorneys representing Orellana-Peralta’s family issued a call to action to California Attorney General Rob Bonta – who is leading a state investigation into the shooting – to “treat this case as if it’s your daughter.”
In a plea for justice, Crump added, “There’s no true peace without fairness, truth, and justice.”
Crump referenced the Bible, arguing that the blood would not wash off of the hands of the LAPD “as long as they attempt to justify the unjustifiable actions that caused your 14-year-old angel to spare her innocent blood, because ‘Valentina is innocent!'”
The crowd repeated the chant with aplomb as it was mentioned.
Attorney Rahul Ravipudi, a child of immigrants, said that Orellana-Peralta’s parents “sacrificed their lives, their sense of community in Chile” to provide better opportunities for their daughter.
A family’s Christmas nightmare
Orellana-Peralta was fatally shot by Los Angeles Police Officer William Dorsey Jones while shopping for a Christmas dress at a Burlington store in North Hollywood on December 23.
The 14-year-old girl and her mother were in the dressing room as police attempted to apprehend a 24-year-old male suspect, Daniel Elena Lopez, who was also shot and killed on the scene.
Orellana-Peralta moved from Chile with her mother Soledad just months before her death in search of a better life. She attended High Tech Los Angeles and hoped to soon become a US citizen like her older sister, Merylee.
During her short time in the US, her parents said that she had mastered the English language and was excelling in her freshman year studies. She was described as her mother’s sidekick and her father’s best friend.
Her parents and extended family observed the procession, occasionally locking hands and passing tissues, or raising a fist or peace sign when her name was mentioned. Partway through, the City of Refuge church gospel band played – at Soledad’s advance request –and her family danced, clapped, and cheered in remembrance of Valentina’s life.
Legendary civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton showed his support
“31 years ago, I came to Los Angeles because LAPD beat a man on the highway. His name was Rodney King,” said Sharpton. “And here we are again. How long will it take for you to get it right?” Sharpton said on stage, addressing the LAPD.
“I don’t feel better if I’m shot by a Black cop,” Sharpton said. “I want to deal with the question of how we handle policing in this country.”
Sharpton heavily criticized the “recklessness” of the LAPD’s actions, suggesting that had a similar incident happened at a high-end shopping complex, or in a rich neighborhood, the response would have been more measured. He added that he’s seen “hostage situations de-escalated without a shot fired.”
Jones, the 42-year-old Black police officer who shot Orellana-Peralta, is now on paid leave.
Sharpton made clear that regardless of the backgrounds of Orellana-Peralta or LAPD officer Jones, “I fight for them to have rights because I worship a refugee from Bethlehem.”
A curious, shy girl full of dreams deferred
Soledad Peralta, the girl’s mother, said the funeral had given her “a little more peace” and “a little more tranquility.”
Peralta said that she plans on staying in the US for as long as it takes to see justice for her daughter, and to help others: “I want help anybody and everybody. I want to give them support.”
She mentioned that Valentina had promised her that she’d pursue robotics and build a robot to help her out around the house.
Soledad added that the day before the funeral, her family had been invited to a Lakers game – one of Valentina’s dreams after having moved to the US – and brought her photo to the game.
Valentina’s cousin Emily called her “funny and adorable” and “unique and independent.”
“Valentina was pensive and quiet — always thinking, always thoughtful. She absorbed the world around her like a sponge — always analyzing people and places around her,” she added.
Juan Pablo Orellana, the father of Orellana-Peralta, said that his daughter was passionate about social justice and stray puppies, and that she thought the US was the safest country in the world.
“She only came to this country to face her death,” said her father.
“Daughter of mine, we love you forever. Give us strength to continue this fight,” said Juan Pablo.
As Orellana-Peralta’s casket was lowered, the congregation gathered outside for the release of 40 white doves in honor of the teenager. Juan Pablo and Soledad embraced as they were surrounded by civil rights leaders, family members, and others who had lost loved ones to police brutality.
Nearly all of the doves soared in the same direction – towards their origin point of Hacienda Heights, the officiating pastor said – but the last one flew on its own path.