Valentina Orellana-Peralta Death Brings Back Memories of Past LAPD Bystander Shooting
- Last week, a 14-year-old bystander was struck by a stray police bullet as officers attempted to apprehend a suspect in an LA store.
- LA City Council candidate Albert Corado’s sister was killed in a similar incident in 2018.
- He spoke to Insider about his sister’s shooting death and the “neglectful and aggressive LAPD.”
Last Thursday, a 14-year-old was fatally shot as police attempted to apprehend a violent suspect at a Burlington Coat Factory in Los Angeles.
Police were called to the North Hollywood store after a male suspect attacked several customers with a bike lock.
Valentina Orellana-Peralta and her mother were in the store’s dressing room when the police entered the building. Video footage of the incident released by the LAPD shows an unnamed officer storming the store as other officers urged him to “slow down.” He fired three shots at the 24-year-old suspect, who died on the scene.
Orellana-Peralta was also shot in the chaos.
The story has unfortunate parallels to that of Melyda Corado — a 27-year-old Trader Joe’s employee who was struck down by a police bullet more than three years ago.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Soledad Peralta said that she and her daughter had been shopping for Christmas dresses when they heard screaming.
Suddenly, Peralta said she heard an explosion and “saw white powder coming from” Valentina’s body.
“When something impacted Valentina, it threw us on the floor, and she died in my arms. And there was nothing I could do,” Peralta continued.
According to police, Orellana-Peralta died after being “struck by a round which skipped off the floor and entered the dressing room wall.”
“This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child is tragic and devastating for everyone involved,” LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore said in a statement late Thursday night. “I am profoundly sorry for the loss of this young girl’s life, and I know there are no words that can relieve the unimaginable pain for the family.”
Valentina Orellana-Peralta’s story has ‘so many parallels’ to past bystander shootings
Melyda Corado was working at a Trader Joe’s in LA’s Silverlake neighborhood on Saturday, July 23, 2018, when she unwittingly found herself in the middle of a police chase.
Gene Atkins, 28, had been running from police who suspected him of shooting his grandmother when he crashed his car into a telephone pole in front of the store, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Police chased Atkins into Trader Joe’s and fired at least eight rounds at him. That’s when Melyda was hit.
Melyda, known to her family as Mely, was treated in front of the store by paramedics but pronounced dead on the scene, according to The New York Times.
After an hours-long stand-off, Atkins was arrested and charged with more than 50 counts, including five counts of attempted murder. The officers involved in the shooting death of Melyda Corado were found to have “complied with policy” and not held liable. Instead, prosecutors charged Atkins with criminal responsibility in Corado’s death. He has yet to go to trial.
“These are no-win situations,” Police Chief Michel Moore said following the Trader Joe’s shooting. “This is a heartbreaking reminder of the split-second decisions that officers must make every day.”
Albert Corado, Melyda’s older brother, told Insider that there are “so many parallels” between Orellana-Peralta’s and his sister’s stories.
“The main sort correlation there is that they were both people just going about their daily lives — trying to just live life. And they were gunned down by neglectful and aggressive LAPD,” Corado said.
Corado, who is running for Los Angeles City Council in 2022, told Insider the LAPD failed to make any substantial changes to their approach to policing following his sister’s death. But he’s hopeful that with the influx of Black Lives Matter and George Floyd protests in 2020 and increased calls for police accountability, things may be different for Valentina Orellana-Peralta’s family.
“I think that this might actually lead to a deeper conversation about policing and whether or not LAPD is doing what they say they’re doing,” Corado said.
Still, he added: “Nothing has been done to rein in the LAPD, and it has resulted and will continue to result in the death of people all over the city,” Albert told Insider.
In 2021, police shot at least 38 people, killing 18 of them, according to reports from the LAPD seen by Insider. In 2020, 27 people were shot by police, resulting in seven fatalities.
Earlier this year, the LA Times analyzed the LA Board of Police Commissioner’s responses to the LAPD-involved fatal shootings since 2018.
The five-person civilian body oversees the LAPD and reviews police-involved fatal shootings. According to the Times, the BPC found that officers’ protocol before firing their weapons was “significantly flawed in a majority of cases.”
Among the issues cited by the police commission were communication problems among officers and officers firing unnecessarily.
The LAPD did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.