The California Department of Justice is investigating after a 14-year-old girl was fatally shot by police at a Burlington store in North Hollywood, officials said Friday.
Valentina Orellana-Peralta died after Los Angeles Police Department officers fired on an assault suspect and a bullet went through the wall and struck her as she was in a dressing room on Thursday morning.
The suspect was also killed, according to LAPD.
California’s DOJ will conduct an independent investigation into the shooting as required by Assembly Bill 1506, state Attorney General Rob Bonta said.
The law stipulates that the state must investigate any police shooting that leaves an unarmed civilian dead.
“Preliminary investigation indicates that one of the deaths fell within the scope of AB 1506,” a news release from the state’s AG office says. “Once the investigation has been completed, it will be turned over to the California Department of Justice’s Special Prosecutions Section within the Criminal Law Division for independent review.”
Officers had responded to the Burlington store near Victory and Laurel Canyon boulevards around 11:45 a.m., after receiving a report of an assault and others of shots being fired, police said.
Investigators have not found a gun at the scene.
The suspect was shot and died at the store but one of the bullets went through drywall behind the man and killed the girl, who was in a changing room with her mother, LAPD said.
Officers found the teenager dead after seeing a hole in “a solid wall that you can’t see behind,” LAPD Assistant Chief Dominic Choi said.
Investigators didn’t immediately know whether she was in the dressing room before the violence began or ran in there to hide, he said.
“This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child is tragic and devastating for everyone involved,” 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.”
Moore promised a “thorough, complete and transparent investigation” into the shooting and said a critical incident video that will include 911 calls, body camera and other video will be released by Monday.
The woman who was attacked is not being identified.
Investigators were trying to determine whether the assault was random or targeted. Choi said they don’t believe the teenager was related to the person who was attacked.
Police found a heavy metal cable lock near the suspect, Choi said.
News reports showed a woman with a bloodied face, who appeared to be the assault victim, being placed in an ambulance.
The victim was taken to the hospital with moderate to serious injuries, Fire Department spokesperson Nicholas Prange said. Choi said she had wounds to her head, arms and face.
The shooting recalled a July 21, 2018, confrontation in which LAPD officers accidentally shot and killed a woman at a Trader Joe’s market. Officers got into a gunfight with a man who authorities say shot his grandmother and girlfriend before leading police on a chase that ended when he crashed his car outside the market.
A police bullet killed Melyda Corado, 27, the assistant store manager, as she ran toward the store’s entrance after hearing the car crash.
The suspect, Gene Evin Atkins, took employees and shoppers hostage for three hours before surrendering, authorities said.
Atkins has pleaded not guilty to the killing.
Prosecutors found two police officers acted lawfully when they returned Atkins’ gunfire.