LAPD Shooting of 14-Year-Old Girl Sparks Outrage As Questions Asked About Police Conduct

The death of a teenage girl fatally shot in a Los Angeles clothing store by police targeting a man suspected of committing an assault has sparked anger online.

The incident unfolded at the Burlington store in North Hollywood, just before midday on Thursday, when witnesses described how a man threatened to throw items from the upper floor and attacked a woman with a bicycle lock, KCBS-TV reported.

Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers arrived at the scene and found a female injured and bleeding and fired at the nearby male suspect, who died at the scene.

The LAPD said in a statement police did not realize that a 14-year-old girl was in a changing area with her mother behind a wall behind the suspect and "out of the officers' view."

The girl was pronounced dead at the scene, with the preliminary investigation showing that she "was struck by one of the rounds fired by an officer at the suspect." The woman believed to be the assault victim was taken to the hospital with wounds to her head, arms and face.

Executive producer and director Norberto Barba tweeted: "Breaks my heart. What's up @LAPDHQ @LAPDChiefMoore with training, or the lack of it? Can't stop an unarmed guy without killing an innocent girl?"

Public defender Olayemi Olurin shared the story, adding: "In other words: LAPD shot and killed a 14 year old girl." A similar sentiment was expressed by journalist Lisa Snowden, who tweeted: "The LAPD killed someone's child two days before Christmas."

It was the same message from journalist Angela Dennis who wrote three times: "LAPD shot and killed a 14 year old girl tonight by mistake..2 days before Christmas."

Kenneth Mejia, a housing justice activist running for Los Angeles City Controller in 2022 tweeted: "Today, the LAPD killed a 14-yr-old girl. This is not an anomaly and is part of a long pattern of senseless LAPD violence."

He added that this year, the number of people "killed by the LAPD is up 143% (17 deaths) from 2020." TV producer Andrew Kimmel tweeted: "Cops killing kids before Christmas... nice work @LAPDHQ."

Samuel Sinyangwe, an activist who maps police shootings, shared an article about the incident and tweeted: "The LAPD has killed more than twice as many people this year as last year—one of the largest spikes in police homicides of any major city."

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the California Department of Justice was investigating and would "independently review" Thursday's incident.

Bonta said in a statement that the preliminary probe indicated that "one of the deaths fell within the scope of AB 1506," referring to the state bill that requires an investigation into all incidents of an officer-involved shooting in which an unarmed civilian died.

LAPD police chief Michel R. Moore said in a statement that the "chaotic incident" on Thursday was "tragic and devastating for everyone involved."

He said he would commit to a "thorough, complete and transparent investigation." He added: "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."

Newsweek has contacted the LAPD for further comment.

Los Angeles Police Department officers
Los Angeles Police Department PIO Capt. Stacy Spell (second from left), at a Burlington store, North Hollywood. He was giving details of an incident in which a 14-year-old girl was killed after officers opened fire at a suspect, on December 23, 2021. Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press