Funeral to Be Held Today for 14-Year-Old Killed by LAPD


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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy and officiate at the funeral today for Valentina Orellana- Peralta, the 14-year-old girl who was fatally struck by a stray bullet fired by Los Angeles police at an assault suspect inside a Burlington store in North Hollywood.

The ceremony will be at 11 a.m. at the City of Refuge Church in Gardena.

The family's lawyers, Ben Crump and Rahul Ravipudi, will also speak at the funeral and repeat their call for justice for Valentina, who was killed in a dressing room while shopping with her mother for a Christmas dress on Dec. 23.

A public viewing for Valentina was on Saturday at Angelus Funeral Home on Crenshaw Boulevard in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles. Later Saturday, a group of demonstrators marched from the Burlington store on Laurel Canyon Boulevard to the Los Angeles Police Department's North Hollywood station on Burbank Boulevard to demand justice over the girl's killing. At 2 p.m. Monday, many of those same activists will have a drive-by caravan at Attorney General Rob Bonta's downtown Los Angeles office.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said Thursday that the city will ``look comprehensively'' at everything including training, tactics and policies in its investigation into the killing. Three Los Angeles City Council members on Friday also introduced a motion aimed at ensuring public transparency during the investigation.

Valentina's parents, speaking to reporters through a translator less than a week after the shooting, said their daughter came to Los Angeles from Chile about six months before the shooting and had dreams of becoming a robotics engineer and an American citizen, and going to see a Los Angeles Lakers game with her father.

``She wanted to be here in the United States because this was the land of opportunity, and she was excited about that,'' attorney Erica Contreras said, translating for Valentina's father, Juan Pablo Orellana Larenas on Dec. 28.

``The only thing that he has left for him now is to seek justice for his daughter. He will not rest until justice for his daughter is served,'' Contreras added.

Valentina attended High Tech Los Angeles Charter School, where she had just passed her math and physics exams.

During that Dec. 28 news conference, Crump read a letter sent to the family by the school's principal, Colleen Molina, saying Valentina ``was an amazing young woman who was brave and showed so much growth in such a short time here at HTLA.''

LAPD Officer William Jones, who shot Valentina while confronting a suspect, has been placed on administrative leave while authorities investigate the shooting. The officer's union said that Jones had recently completed a course on how to handle an active shooter situation and was following his training.

Police fatally shot 24-year-old Daniel Elena Lopez -- who did not have a gun -- but a bullet fired by Jones pierced a wall and struck Valentina. Lopez had entered the store with his bicycle and started randomly attacking customers with a bike chain lock, leaving one woman bloodied on the floor as officers arrived on the scene.

The LAPD released body camera and surveillance footage of the entire violent incident last week, and a coalition of civil rights groups has called for Jones to be arrested and prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter.

The LAPD's Force Investigation Division and Inspector General's Office are both investigating the shooting, along with the California Department of Justice's California Police Shooting Investigation Team for Southern California. The DOJ investigates officer shootings under provisions of a bill signed into law last year.

Once the investigation has been completed, the results will be turned over to the California Department of Justice's Special Prosecutions Section within the Criminal Law Division for independent review.

The incident drew the attention of President Joe Biden, who offered his condolences to the people of Chile -- where Valentina was from -- while on a phone call with Chilean president-elect Gabriel Boric on Thursday.

Valentina came to Los Angeles with her mother from Santiago, Chile.

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