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California Department of Justice Releases Report on Officer-Involved Shooting of Daniel Elena Lopez and Bystander Valentina Orellana Peralta

 

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, pursuant to Assembly Bill 1506 (AB 1506), today released a report on Daniel Elena Lopez and bystander Valentina Orellana Peralta’s death from an officer involved shooting in North Hollywood, California, on December 23, 2021, involving the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The report is part of the California Department of Justice's (DOJ) ongoing efforts to provide transparency and accountability in law enforcement practices. The report provides a detailed analysis of the incident and outlines DOJ's findings. After a thorough investigation, DOJ concluded that criminal charges were not appropriate in this case. DOJ urges the department to recognize the important lessons to be learned from this incident and to make critical policy and practice improvements related to the incident.

"This case was a particularly challenging one to process as this involved the loss of two lives,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Any loss of life is a tragedy, and my heart goes out especially to the family of Valentina Orellana Peralta, who tragically lost her life and whose only involvement in this incident was by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The California Department of Justice remains steadfast in our commitment to working together with all law enforcement partners to ensure an unbiased, transparent, and accountable legal system for every resident of California. AB 1506 is a critical transparency and accountability tool, and our hope for this report is to provide some understanding and aid in advancing towards a safer California for all.”

On December 23, 2021, LAPD responded to a report of an active shooter at Burlington Coat Factory. Officers found a victim covered in blood and Mr. Elena Lopez was next to her with an object in his hand and another object which he used as a shield. An officer fatally shot Mr. Elena Lopez and one of the rounds struck the floor and changed direction, entering the wall of a fitting room, and striking and killing 14-year-old bystander Valentina Orellana Peralta. Under AB 1506, which requires DOJ to investigate all incidents of officer-involved shootings resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian in the state, DOJ conducted a thorough investigation into this incident and concluded that the evidence does not show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officer involved acted without the intent to defend himself and others from what he reasonably believed to be imminent death or serious bodily injury. Therefore, there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution of the officer. As such, no further action will be taken in this case.   

DOJ has identified the following recommendation as a part of its investigation to help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future:

  • Improve lines of communication in response to Immediate Action and Rapid Deployment scenarios: LAPD should consider updating their communication training bulletin and any related training to account for the type of situation presented during this event.

 A copy of the report can be found here.