A year after Melyda Corado was fatally struck by a police bullet in a shootout outside a Silver Lake grocery store, loved ones gathered at a church Sunday to remember her life and plead for justice in her death.
Corado, 27, was working as an assistant manager at the store along Hyperion Avenue when she was shot as Los Angeles police officers exchanged gunfire with a man accused of shooting his grandmother before leading officers on a chase that started in South L.A.
It ended when he crashed outside the store, engaging in a shootout before going inside Trader Joe's and taking shoppers and employees hostage, authorities have said.
Police later revealed Corado was killed by a bullet fired by a Los Angeles Police Department officer.
Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in December against the city of Los Angeles and two officers who opened fire.
Loved ones of Corado have struggled to get more answers from LAPD about how she died — a point her father alluded to as he spoke before the Sunday memorial service inside Silverlake Community Church.
"I cannot bring Mely home," Albert Corado said, his voice choking. "But one thing I can do is I can fight for Mely and give Mely the justice she deserves."
Last month, a judge ordered the county of Los Angeles to provide her family with a copy of an autopsy report that had been placed on a security hold, according to Courthouse News Service. The judge also ordered Trader Joe's to give the Corados a copy of surveillance video it says LAPD was holding as evidence.
Gene Atkins, the suspect in the deadly shootout and chase, pleaded not guilty to 51 criminal charges in December — including murder, attempted murder of a peace officer and kidnapping.
Albert Corado on Sunday described feeling his daughter has been "taken away," saying she herself would not say she's "in a better place."
"I talked to Mely last night, and I asked, Mely, 'Mely, are you in a better place?' She said, 'Hell no,'" he said. "Something like that ... she said this place is dark. It's hot. It's humid. Daddy, I want to go home.'"
"I don't believe in destiny, that you die when it's your time. No, it wasn't Mely's time," he said. "Mely wanted to go to parties. Mely wanted to go to concerts. Mely wanted to go out with her friends."
Weeks after her death, Corado's family pleaded for LAPD to release the complete autopsy report and all raw video of the incident until eventually filing the lawsuit.
But criticism over LAPD's handling of the shootout itself has accompanied their pleas for answers.
John Taylor, one of the family's attorneys, has previously said one of the officer's guns could be seen aimed toward "at least four or five visible people" outside the store in video later released by police.
"The officers in the pursuit car had no tactical plan, got out of the vehicle — already having made up their minds to fire their weapons," Taylor said. "Without assessing the background that confronted them, they shot towards the direction of Trader Joe’s."
Albert Corado told the audience attending the memorial on Sunday to help him bring "justice."
"I need your help," he said, asking for the assistance of the city of Los Angeles and community of Silver Lake.
"Mely was taken away. Mely was killed by a coward — someone who was afraid, by someone who does not belong in the city of Los Angeles. But we gonna make justice."
"We gonna make sure justice prevail. Thank you all. Mely forever."
Following the memorial, mourners gathered for a candle light vigil near the scene of the shooting.