Letters to the Editor: Outrage over LAPD killing of a 14-year-old preparing for her quinceanera

A memorial at the Burlington store in North Hollywood, where a 14-year-old was shot and killed on Dec. 23.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The fundamental question with regard to a Los Angeles Police Department officer killing a 14-year-old bystander while pursuing a suspect inside a clothing store on Dec. 23 is this: Why did police fire their guns in a crowded space?

The answer lies in the description of police training published in a Feb. 21 op-ed article in this newspaper. The trainees were told, “You have a right to go home.” In other words, the central concern in the mind of an officer in a confrontation is ensuring that he or she does not suffer harm. Whatever action is taken to ensure this is therefore excusable.

According to The Times, the suspect at the store appears to have been carrying a heavy object that could have inflicted injury on the officer. Thus to an officer, the use of a gun may be justified, and any injury done to someone else is of secondary importance.


Somehow we need to establish that people who are hired to be police officers must realize that the safety of the public should take precedence over their own.

Rory Johnston, Hollywood


To the editor: When I read that an LAPD officer killed 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta, who was in a dressing room, while firing at a suspect in a North Hollywood clothing store, I found myself utterly baffled.

In a firearms safety class I took, the one thing instructors stressed was to make sure you know what is behind your intended target in case you miss. They also said that if you have practiced at a gun range, you better not need to fire more than one shot.

Why should multiple officers need to all shoot, resulting in stray bullets that could strike innocent bystanders?

Beth Grant-DeRoos, Valley Springs, Calif.



To the editor: The LAPD chief called this incident “devastating and tragic.” One word left out was “avoidable.”

I can’t understand why police officers confronting a single suspect saw fit to fire a gun in a department store with customers two days before Christmas.

If there was more than one officer, why didn’t they use non-lethal means to get him down? Where was store security? Why did officers shoot toward a wall without knowing what was behind it?

What we do know is that a 14-year-old girl preparing for a quinceanera had her life cut short because police officers decided to shoot without appropriately considering the consequences of that action. My feeling is that the officers involved in this tragedy should be fired and possibly face criminal charges for using their guns in a retail store.

I realize that the distortion of the 2nd Amendment means there are too many guns in circulation in this country and that police officers need to be more alert to the possibility of a suspect being armed. However, the LAPD motto is “to protect and to serve.” These officers did not do that on Dec. 23.

Gary Green, Pasadena