[REQ_ERR: OPERATION_TIMEDOUT] [KTrafficClient] Something is wrong. Enable debug mode to see the reason. LAPD shooting that killed rampaging man and teenage shopper is detailed in report – Mega Portal24
May 30, 2024
The report criticized the "breakdown of communication" that derailed the police's plan to use a less-lethal projectile.

A shooting by a Los Angeles police officer in a department store killed a man who was on a violent rampage — and a 14-year-old girl who was Christmas shopping with her mother, says a newly released report on the 2021 incident.

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California Department of Justice investigators gave a detailed description of the officers’ encounter with the man, who had used a bike lock to beat a shopper, and concluded that “there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution of the officer” who fired the fatal shots. The report, however, did criticize the “breakdown of communication” that derailed the police’s plan to use a less-lethal projectile.

The investigation was required by a state law that covers any shooting by a law enforcement officer that kills a person who does not have a lethal weapon.

The shootings took place on Dec. 23, 2021, in a Burlington store in Los Angeles’ North Hollywood neighborhood. Officer William Jones Jr. fired three rifle shots at Daniel Elena Lopez, 24. One of the shots fatally struck Elena Lopez; another went through a wall into a dressing room, where it fatally struck the girl, Valentina Orellana Peralta.

The report’s timeline begins at 10:30 a.m., almost 90 minutes before the shooting. In a residential area five blocks from the store, Elena Lopez reportedly threw a woman to the ground outside her apartment building and punched and kicked her. He then ran across the street, pushed his way into another woman’s apartment, poured a carton of milk over his head and ran out.

At 11:24, he was at the store, immediately drawing employees’ attention because he brought a bike on the escalator. He dressed himself in clothes and boots from the store — stripping down to his underwear in an aisle — and then, followed by employees, returned to the escalator. There he threatened to throw the bike down to the first floor, then began using a cable-type bike lock to smash store furnishings and equipment.

The timeline recounts a flurry of activity in the 10 minutes before police arrived: Elena Lopez continued smashing things with the bike lock and shoved and grabbed three women; employees tried to evacuate the customers; and 911 dispatchers received five calls, one incorrectly stating that “a man with a gun” was firing shots in the store.

When the first four LAPD officers arrived, they made a plan to disable the attacker with a “less lethal” foam projectile, then they entered the building. Elena Lopez ran up the escalator and toward the back of the store.

As the officers followed him, a woman whom he had struck repeatedly with the bike lock stumbled out in front of them, bleeding profusely from the head.

Around that time, Officer Jones arrived behind the original four officers. Even as the team leader was telling them to slow down so he could assess the situation, Jones moved past, saying, “Let me take point with the rifle.”

The officer with the projectile launcher raised it as they sighted Elena Lopez, saying, “Hold up, Jones, I got it.” Before he could shoot, Jones fired his rifle three times from 16 feet away.

Thirty seconds later, the officers heard screaming from the dressing room and discovered Valentina and her distraught mother.

Elena Lopez and Valentina both died at the scene, each having been struck by one bullet. The coroner’s examination found methamphetamine, amphetamine and marijuana in Elena Lopez’s system.

Jones, a 12-year veteran of the force, was not compelled to speak to the investigators, and the report does not include an account from him. The report states: “Officer Jones likely believed he was acting in self-defense or defense of others.” It is not known whether he heard information broadcast over the police radio that indicated Elena Lopez was not thought to have a firearm.

The report is the eighth issued under the California law that took effect in July 2021. The seven other reports also determined that no criminal charges against an officer were warranted.

As of April 2024, the state’s attorney general had called for investigations of 56 fatal shootings by law enforcement officers.