LAPD officer will not face criminal charges in killing of 14-year-old girl at store during

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A Los Angeles Police Department officer will not face criminal charges in the 2021 fatal shooting of a 14-year-old girl killed inside a department store when police fired at a man suspected of attacking a woman, California prosecutors said Wednesday.

Valentina Orellana-Peralta and her mother were holding one another and praying in the dressing room of the Burlington Coat Factory in North Hollywood, California, after a man began attacking customers in the store on December 23, 2021, police previously said.

When police arrived and confronted the suspect with gunfire, an officer’s bullet pierced through the wall and fatally struck Valentina, who was pronounced dead on scene. Police also fatally shot 24-year-old suspect Daniel Elena-Lopez.

The California Department of Justice released a report Wednesday detailing the findings of its investigation into the shooting, which determined that no criminal charges will be filed against the officer who killed the teenager.

“We conclude that no criminal charges will be filed because the evidence is insufficient to prove that [the officer] committed a crime,” the California Department of Justice said in its investigative report.

Greg Meyer, a law enforcement expert who reviewed the case, concluded that there was not enough time for the officer “or any other officer to attempt de-escalation tactics in this situation,” according to the report. Meyer noted Valentina’s fatal shooting “was a tragic but unforeseeable accident,” according to the report.

CNN has reached out to LAPD and the attorney representing Valentina’s family for comment.

“This case was a particularly challenging one to process as this involved the loss of two lives,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. “Any loss of life is a tragedy, and my heart goes out especially to the family of Valentina Orellana Peralta, who tragically lost her life and whose only involvement in this incident was by being at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

At the time of incident in December 2021, police were responding to multiple calls of suspected assault and a possible shooting unfolding inside Burlington Coat Factory.

Police released edited surveillance camera footage and police body camera videos showing events leading to the teenager’s killing.

A video shows Daniel Elena-Lopez, the suspect, entering department store with his bike and wearing a tank top and shorts. He then takes the escalator upstairs with his bike.

Shortly after, he returns to the escalators wearing a multicolored jacket and long pants before swinging his bike lock at customers, police said at the time. He is also seen attacking several customers.

Several body camera videos released by police show a woman on the floor covered in blood as officers arrive and try to find the suspect, who was a short distance away, police said.

Elena-Lopez was at the end of an aisle about 12 feet from the bloodied woman and holding a “dark object” in his hand when the officer stepped into the aisle, according to the newly released California Department of Justice report.

An officer can be heard on the body camera footage firing three bullets toward the suspect, who later falls to the ground. The officer had fired a Colt AR-15 patrol rifle, according to the justice department report.

A bullet aimed at the suspect passed through the wall, striking Valentina in the chest and killing her, coroner records show.

The bullet had hit the floor and changed direction before entering the wall of a fitting room, according to the report.

Meyer, the law enforcement expert, concluded that time and circumstances “did not allow for planning and assessment of such factors as the potential for an unseen innocent person being in the background, rifle bullet penetration capability, or assessment of the physical structure of the walls behind the suspect,” according to the report.

“The evidence does not show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that [the officer] acted without the intent to defend himself and others from what he reasonably believed to be imminent death or serious bodily injury,” the department of justice said in the report.

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