Los Angeles Police Release Footage From Shooting When 14-Year-Old Accidentally Killed

The Los Angeles Police Department released a 35:26 video on Monday documenting officers' actions when shooting and killing an assault suspect in an incident that also led to the accidental shooting death of a 14-year-old girl.

Police were called to a Burlington store in North Hollywood on December 23 after reports that 24-year-old David Elena Lopez was attacking a woman with a bicycle lock. The unnamed woman was left with wounds on her head, face and arms.

The video shows erratic behavior by Elena Lopez captured on security cameras. He walked around the store trying different clothes on. He then waited at the top of an escalator next to his bike, often taking steps toward passersby.

The first two women he attacks get away from him. A third is repeatedly struck with a bicycle lock. Her face is covered in blood while she slips along the floor trying to create distance between herself and Elena Lopez.

In an attempt to stop Elena Lopez, officers opened fire, fatally shooting him. Three shots can be heard in the video. One of the bullets also went through the drywall behind Elena Lopez, hitting 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta, who was in one of the store's changing rooms with her mother. Officers determined Orellana-Peralta was deceased at the scene after being struck by gunfire.

The department's policy is to release footage from "critical incidents" within 45 days, In addition to the body camera and security camera footage, 911 calls and radio transmissions were released from the day of the shootings.

In a Thursday statement, Moore apologized for Orellana-Peralta's shooting.

"This chaotic incident resulting in the death of an innocent child is tragic and devastating for everyone involved," Moore said. "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."

Burlington, LAPD, shooting
The LAPD chief said video and audio surrounding last week's accidental fatal shooting of a 14-year-old girl would soon be released. Above, police officers work near a broken glass door at the scene where two people were struck by gunfire in a shooting at a Burlington store in North Hollywood, California, Thursday, Dec. 23. Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP Photo

The California Department of Justice is also investigating Thursday's shooting.

LAPD officers have shot people 38 people—18 of them fatally, including the shooting Sunday of a man with a knife—in 2021, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Those figures mark a dramatic rise in cases where officers shot or killed people in either of the last two years—27 people were shot and 7 of them killed by LA police in all of 2020. In 2019, officers shot 26 people, killing 12.

Mourners left flowers and a votive candle outside the store on Christmas in a memorial for Orellana-Peralta.

The Times reported that Elena Lopez's previous criminal history includes convictions for car theft, carrying a loaded gun in public and carrying a gun as a felon. He was transferred to the Los Angeles County jail to the custody of the state prison system, but a spokeswoman for the corrections department would not release his commitment history to the newspaper because of the LAPD investigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Update (12/27, 8:37 PM): This story was updated with a new headline and additional information following the release of video, calls and audio from the incident.

Thursday in North Hollywood, authorities said Elena Lopez was acting erratically, threatening to throw items from the upper floor, before attacking a woman with a bicycle lock shortly before noon as the store was crowded with holiday shoppers.

Officers answered a report of an assault and others of shots being fired. No gun—only the bike lock—was recovered at the scene.

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.

Police shot and 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

shooting, memorial, California, Burlington
The coroner's office has identified the 14-year-old girl who was fatally shot by Los Angeles police when officers fired on an assault suspect and a bullet went through the wall and struck the girl as she was in a clothing store dressing room. Above, a votive candle and flowers are left for the teen who was fatally shot at the store in the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Christmas Day. Richard Vogel/AP Photo

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts